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November 16: “Fires, Explosions, Floods, Inundations”

November 16, 2014
reuterpaulwb2The son of a rabbi, Israel Beer Josaphat, was baptized in London as a Lutheran named Paul Julius Reuter on this date in 1845. Returning to Germany, Reuter became a publisher of radical pamphlets at the start of the 1848 upheaval, then took himself to Paris and founded his own Reuters News Agency, which used carrier pigeons to create a fast link between the Paris stock market and European capitals and established itself as one of the world’s first international news agencies. The pigeons were superseded by the telegraph in 1851, and Reuter moved back to Great Britain and established offices right next to the London stock exchange. He spent the next seven years building the agency and convincing several major newspapers to retain its services. In 1859, he transmitted the text of a speech given by Napoleon III prior to the Austro-French Piedmontese war in Italy; in 1865, his was the first news agency to bring the news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to the European public. Eventually, Reuter laid his own telegraph cables across the North Sea to reach Germany and France. By 1874, the company had expanded to the U.S., Asia, and South America. In 1871, Reuter became a German baron, a title later confirmed by Queen Victoria. He died at 82 in 1899. Report on “fires, explosions, floods, inundations, railway accidents, destructive storms, earthquakes, shipwrecks attended with loss of life, accidents to war vessels and to mail steamers, street riots of a grave character, disturbances arising from strikes, duels between, and suicides of persons of note, social or political, and murders of a sensational or atrocious character. It is requested that the bare facts be first telegraphed with the utmost promptitude, and as soon as possible afterwards a descriptive account, proportionate to the gravity of the incident.” —Paul Reuter to his reporters