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Tuesday 2 August 2016

If it's not Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Man U, don't expect Reuters to cover it

Another guest post from our sporting secret squirrel E. I. Addio
It's a tough old world out there - and not just for local newspaper journalists. A few weeks ago we reported on Reuters cutbacks that meant restricted Olympic coverage and some Euro16 matches being reported from in front of a TV set in Bangalore. Well, if we thought it couldn't get any worse, sports editor Mitch Phillips is about to prove us all wrong.
In a memo to staff outlining future football coverage for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Phillips says that pretty well everything that doesn't happen in England, France, Italy, Spain or Germany is out of the window (apart from a special dispensation for the Old Firm match in Scotland)  - and even then it will be all eyes on the biggest teams.
Riots or corruption? Yes. International friendlies? Hmm. Perhaps. Someone scores a hat-trick? A couple of pars in a wrap maybe. Player fined? Probably not.
And it's not just football that will feel the pinch: basketball, cricket, boxing, badminton and motor-racing coverage will all be cut back - or abandoned. Stringers' services will no longer be required, but there will be talks to see how to keep them sweet so that they'll turn it on when Reuters comes begging for a special one-off favour. 
Phillips clearly expects howls of protest as he concludes: "Any questions/observations all welcome but think twice if you are going to pleading “special case” for a particular event."
But there's good news: the Bangalore output will be expanded.

Here's the memo in full:

From: "Phillips, Mitch (Reuters News)"
Date: 15 July 2016 10:56:
Subject: EMEA sport coverage changes
Dear all, as our staffing levels remain below the optimum we are again looking at ways we can cut the burden on the desk and have come up with a few areas of coverage we are going to drop or change.
For the new football season we will no longer have routine weekly coverage of Greece, Belgium Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Scandinavia, Balkan countries or in fact anywhere other than the Big Five.
We will still carry occasional spot news from these countries but this will be focused on riots/corruption etc rather than hat-tricks.
Instead of regular weekly coverage we will include a couple of pars in the Sunday night round-up. This round-up will become a task carried out by the various Euro reporters/stringers and will passed around and not done by the London Sunday subbing desk. However, the Sunday wrap will no longer include the big five.
It can take occasional entries from lesser leagues – Celtic’s first premiership clash with Rangers, Greek fixtures all cancelled due to protests etc – but these leagues do not need to be included as routine.
We will also be streamlining our Champions League coverage, focusing (even more) on the bigger teams and carrying fewer match reports, with the same applying to international friendlies.
Other events we will no longer cover are Euro basketball, all-England badminton, many cricket one-dayers, most motorsport outside F1 and most boxing other than key big fights.
While we will continue to cover important  FIFA and UEFA issues in great depth we will cut back on covering routine announcements such as firework fines etc.
Of course it is a shame that we need to make these cuts and some clients might not be happy but as we are all aware, we just don’t have the staff in terms of reporting or editing to continue to process the same level of copy. We also understand that there will be some seeming contractions as we cut in some areas but expand the Bangalore output but that is a different issue.
Understandably the changes are going to impact on some of our stringers who we will no longer need on a week to week basis. We’ll be talking to them all about if and how we can retain a relationship to include internationals and one-off stories.
Any questions/observations all welcome but think twice if you are going to pleading “special case” for a particular event.
Many thanks

Mitch Phillips
Sports Editor EMEA
Thomson Reuters

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