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Reuter, Paul Julius, Freiherr von

REUTER, PAUL JULIUS, FREIHERR VON (1816–1899), originally Israel Beer Josaphat (also called Josephsthal), German banker, bookseller, news entrepreneur and founder of the Reuters Ltd. news agency. Born in Kassel, Germany, as the third son of the Provisional Rabbi Samuel Levi Josaphat (died 1829), the 13-year-old Israel Beer was sent to his uncle in Goettingen where he was trained in a local banking house. At Goettingen University, he made the acquaintance of the famous mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855), who was experimenting in electrotelegraphy. In 1845, after having settled in Berlin, he converted to Protestantism, assumed the name Paul Julius Reuter, and married Ida, the daughter of Friedrich Martin Freiherr von Magnus (1796–1869), a Berlin banker. In 1847, together with Joseph Stargardt (1822–1885), he took over a bookshop and publishing business, "Stargard & Reuter," in Berlin, assisted by his father-in-law's capital. After being charged with spreading "democratic" pamphlets in 1848, he managed to escape to Paris. There, as a successor to Bernhard *Wolff, Reuter first worked as a translator for the established French news agency "Agence Havas," founded by Charles-Louis Havas in 1835 (since 1944 "Agence France-Press," AFP). Noting the demand for political news, Reuter embarked upon a career of news gathering on his own. In 1849, together with his colleague Sigmund Englaender (died 1902), who had fled from Vienna in October 1848, he started a lithographed "Correspondence," directed at the provincial papers of Germany, but tightened political censorship under Louis Napoléon Bonaparte soon brought this to an end. When Europe's first commercial telegraph line, the Prussian State Telegraph Berlin-Aachen, was opened on October 1, 1849, Reuter returned to Germany and established his own telegraphic agency in Aachen (later also in Brussels, Verviers, and Quiévrain), first supplying local clients with financial news from the Prussian capital, but soon expanding. In spring 1850, when the French opened a line from Brussels to Paris, Reuter bridged the gap of about 95 miles between Aachen and Brussels by a regular pigeon post service until 1851.

In June 1851, when the Dover-Calais cable was laid, Reuter moved to London on the advice of Werner Siemens (1816–1892) and, together with S. Englaender, opened his "Telegraphic Office," later to be called "Continental Telegraph," "Mr. Reuter's Office" and, from 1865, "Reuter's Telegram Company Ltd." (RTC). At first limited to the dispatch of commercial telegrams, Reuter's agency soon added news, serving clients and newspapers on the Continent, the provincial press, and by 1858 the London daily newspapers, including the Times. In 1869, three years after the laying of the first transatlantic cable, Reuter laid his own undersea cable connecting Brest and Duxbury, Massachusetts. By the 1870s, Reuters Ltd. had established itself as the leading international news agency, extending its services from Europe to North and South America, to the coastal regions of Africa, to the Far East, including China and the East Indies, as well as to Australia. From 1870 till 1934, secret "news cartel" agreements with the competing "Agence Havas" in Paris and Bernhard Wolff 's "WTB" in Berlin (from 1893 also with the Associated Press in Illinois) secured "reserved areas" of gathering and spreading news, leaving the entire British Empire to Reuters. In 1871, Reuter who had become a British citizen in 1857, was raised to a German baron-age (Freiherrnstand) by Ernst II, the Duke of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha, which was later recognized by Queen Victoria. During the 1870s, Reuter's son HERBERT VON REUTER (1852–1915) gradually took over Reuters Ltd., succeeding the father upon his retirement in 1878. The family's association with the news agency ended with Herbert's suicide in 1915. Reuter's grandson, BARON OLIVER DE REUTER (1894–1968), an art collector and genealogist, was the family's last offspring.

After 1915, Reuters Ltd. was transformed into a private company, in 1941 into the Reuters Trust, with independent trustees, and in 1984 into a public company. In 1923 Reuters pioneered the use of radio to transmit news internationally, in 1962 for the first time via satellite, and in the early 21st century controlled the world's largest satellite and cable network.


L. Fraenkel, ADB, 53 (1907), 319–21; F. Fuchs, Telegraphische Nachrichtenbueros (1919); H.M. Collins, From Pigeon Post to Wireless (1925). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Wininger, 5 (1930), 187; G. Storey, Reuter's Century 18511951 (1951); D. Read, The Power of News. The History of Reuters 18491989 (1992); J. Wilke, Grundzuege der Medien- und Kommunikationsgeschichte (2000); B. Mooney and B. Simpson, Breaking News. How the Wheels Came Off at Reuters (2003); B. Soesemann, in: NDB 21 (2003), 471–2.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.