Summary:

Less than two years after Reuters.com got a major overhaul to make it more “consumer-facing”, the site is getting another revamp that reflec…

Reuters.com July 2011

Less than two years after Reuters.com got a major overhaul to make it more “consumer-facing”, the site is getting another revamp that reflects the changes being put in place by Stephen Adler and Chrystia Freeland, the head of the Reuters (NYSE: TRI) News unit and editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, respectively.

In a memo to the staff attributed to Freeland and Keith McAllister, editor and publisher for Reuters’ Consumer Media, the duo says that just the homepage will sport the new look, as it will take a few weeks to move the other parts of the site from the old system. The most noticeable change is in use of colors — the bold, primary red background framing the “Reuters” is gone, in place of a more sober black with gold touches.

Still in all, it doesn’t seem that dramatic a change from what was there before. But it sounds like the point is a little less about the look than the arrangement of the content, which seems intended to showcase the numerous high profile hires and internal personnel moves Adler has made over the past few months, especially in the last few weeks. (As it turns out, a Reuters rep points out that the company doesn’t consider this to be a “major overhaul” and that it is more simply an update of the current look, rather than a break with last redesign.)

As Freeland writes: “The refresh is just the beginning of Steve’s pledge to develop a powerful consumer-facing digital presence for Reuters News. In recent weeks, we’ve added some brilliant new journalists to our already terrific team: two-time Pulitzer prize winner David Rohde, who will be writing a column starting in the autumn; the iconic Sir Harry Evans, whose events and writing will be featured on Reuters.com; Pulitzer-prize-winner and tax guru David Cay Johnston, some of whose work for Professional will be show-cased on the site; social media innovator Anthony De Rosa, who joins us from the technology group; Ryan McCarthy, the Huffington Post’s pioneering business editor; and deputy op-ed editor Paul Smalera, who joined us from Fortune.com. We have also recently added monthly columns from former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Larry Summers and PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian to our growing op-ed line-up.”

The announcement of the redesign — instead of just acknowledging some minor tweaks around the branding and structure of the page, which is fairly routine for most sites as they expand their digital and social media offerings — is not just a reflection of Adler’s and Freeland’s new positions, which they were appointed to this past February and April, respectively.

More than that, the stylistic update part of keeping up with its rival Bloomberg, which unveiled a significant redirection for Bloomberg.com — though it’s fair to say that Bloomberg had much farther to go in remaking its website than Reuters had to this time out.

Bloomberg, Reuters and Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) have been working diligently on becoming more “consumer facing,” that is, appealing to wider professional audience than the financial markets professionals who subscribe to their respective services. The feeling is that as the business of news is flattened on the web, where traditional print brands are effectively rendered equal in terms of distribution and reach, these financial information companies can expand their presence to both readers and advertisers, thereby enhancing their their core services.

That’s why Reuters has gone on such a hiring binge and has been aiming for prestigious journalism prizes with its long-form “enterprise reporting” and hiring star reporters like the New York Times’ Rohde. It’s also why Bloomberg hired former NYT op-ed editor David Shipley and one-time Clinton Administration-era Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin to run its opinion features.

These efforts are extremely expensive and at a time when traditional news outlets continue to shrink, it’s heartening to see any company expanding its news efforts. While all these companies have shown significant patience with building these operations, the measures for success appear vague — clearly, it will rest on some combination of traffic gains, brand awareness and, lastly ad revenue. But in terms of building up the core financial data products that these companies have been founded on, that will probably be more difficult to determine.

Here’s Freeland’s and McAllister’s Memo to the staff:

Colleagues,

Reuters.com is getting a new look. The beta version of the refreshed home page goes live on July 7. Users can get to it by clicking a button on the homepage of the current site. Once they are there, we will encourage them (that includes you!) to let us know what they think. (Only the refreshed homepage is available in beta, however, so don’t be thrown when you go back to the current design as you venture deeper into the site. When we switch over to the new look in a few weeks it will run across Reuters.com.)

The chief goal of this refresh is to display more of our terrific content and to provide a clearer hierarchy of news stories across our English language websites (US, UK, and India). We are also bringing Reuters.com more closely into the Thomson Reuters family by adopting our primary corporate palette across our online and mobile platforms.

The refresh is just the beginning of Steve’s pledge to develop a powerful consumer-facing digital presence for Reuters News. In recent weeks, we’ve added some brilliant new journalists to our already terrific team: two-time Pulitzer prize winner David Rohde, who will be writing a column starting in the autumn; the iconic Sir Harry Evans, whose events and writing will be featured on Reuters.com; Pulitzer-prize-winner and tax guru David Cay Johnston, some of whose work for Professional will be show-cased on the site; social media innovator Anthony De Rosa, who joins us from the technology group; Ryan McCarthy, the Huffington Post’s pioneering business editor; and deputy op-ed editor Paul Smalera, who joined us from Fortune.com. We have also recently added monthly columns from former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Larry Summers and PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian to our growing op-ed line-up.

Sprucing up the homepage should help make the work of our new and old stars — and everything we do at Reuters — more visible, but it is just a small step in our broader effort to make Reuters.com and all of our digital platforms a fitting showcase for Reuters News and all of Thomson Reuters. Watch this space.

Best,

Chrystia & Keith

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