Reuters' Paying Subscribers Are 'Demanding' In-Depth Investigations

reutersJim Impoco is leading Reuters’ enterprise efforts.

It was only last year that Reuters started getting into long-form investigative journalism.But the newswire’s been garnering recognition because of it, and it plans to keep expanding the effort.

Jim Impoco, Reuters’ inaugural enterprise editor, told us the wire’s financial and media subscribers were “demanding” investigative stories.

And Keith McCallister, Reuters online news editor, said, “The people paying the bills are eating it up as far as we can tell.”

McCallister declined to provide stats, but he said Reuters’ “Special Reports,” like its titillating international probe into the Sands Macau casino in March, average 10 times more readers than other articles. By one metric, Impoco said, three out of the four most-read Reuters stories among U.S. subscribers in March were investigative pieces, including its March 17 expose about an insurance company that was dropping H.I.V.-positive patients.

Reuters started ramping up its enterprise last fall when it hired Impoco, who was previously an editor at The New York Times and Conde Nast Portfolio, and several investigative reporters.

Impoco told us the company is in the process of bringing on two additional enterprise editors, one based in London and one in Singapore.

“It will make the entire project more efficient,” he said.

Impoco said that previously, most stories maxed out at 700 words, whereas he’s been regularly overseeing pieces between 3,000 and 7,000 words. A 7,000-word article by Nick Carey in December was “the longest piece in the history of Reuters,” he said.

Investigative pieces are massively expensive and time-consuming. (Impoco declined to give numbers but said Reuters editor in chief David Schlesinger “hasn’t blinked” when signing off on any of them.) And Impoco doesn’t have a designated investigative team.

But, “The reason it’s going so swimmingly is because we’ve got lots of boots on the ground,” 2800 reporters in over 200 bureaus, he said.

Including boots from other news organisations: The Sands Macau investigation was produced in conjunction with PBS producer and Berkeley j-school professor Lowell Bergman’s Investigative Reporting Program.

Impoco said several more such collaborations are in the works—a second with Bergman and one with The Huffington Post’s Investigative Fund.

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