This website uses cookies to provide a rich user experience. Please consult our Cookie Policy to learn about what cookies this website uses, or to control the cookies you receive. You need do nothing if you are happy to receive cookies.
Look and Learn History Picture Library License images from £2.99 Pay by PayPal for images for immediate download Member of British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)

Reuters News Agency was indispensable to governments and journalists

Posted in Communications, Historical articles, History on Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Click on any image for details about licensing for commercial or personal use.

This edited article about Paul Reuter originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 789 published on 26th February 1977.

Barob Reuter, picture, image, illustration

Baron Paul Julius Reuter by Melchiorre Delfico

A pigeon fluttered down from the sky and a young man gave a cry of joy. With trembling fingers he removed the message which was attached to the bird’s leg, then raced with it to the new telegraph office at Aachen. Paul Reuter was in business.

The pigeon had begun its flight at Brussels, where Paul Reuter’s young wife sent it off with the message. As yet the telegraph lines on the Continent had not been joined up and the Reuters introduced a pigeon post between the telegraph offices of Brussels and Aachen. It was the first step towards founding the world’s most famous news agency.

Paul Julius de Reuter (later to become a baron) was born at Kassel in Germany on July 21st, 1816. As he grew up he became interested in the newly-developed technique of sending messages along wires. And in 1849 he founded his pigeon post service.

In 1851 he set up an office in London following the laying of a cable between Dover and Calais. When he registered his company, its objective was described as the “transmission of intelligence” between Britain and the Continent.

Unfortunately for Reuter, no-one else seemed interested in the “transmission of intelligence”. In vain the German explained to English newspaper editors the advantages of his system; how he planned to have agents in every centre, sending off news so that papers everywhere knew what was going on almost within minutes of its happening.

It was not until 1858 – seven years after the Channel cable had been laid – that Reuter suddenly had his breakthrough.

A Paris Reuter agent forwarded the text of an important speech by Napoleon III. The Times published this, and overnight Reuters news agency was accepted. From then on its network of agents spread throughout the world to the huge organisation it is today.

Paul Reuter died at Nice in the South of France on February 25th, 1899.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.