Reuters sets up action units to provide disaster aidJanuary 2010
A major media company is to donate the services of its journalists to help gather information when natural disasters strike.
Thomson Reuters says ‘action units’ of journalists will be deployed around the world within a few hours of a disaster to ‘collate and disseminate life-saving information’ to local people.
They will deliver information to NGOs, aid agencies, community groups and others by mobile phone text messages, email and the internet – but will turn to low-tech means such as leaflets, community noticeboards and even megaphones if necessary.
The company says the service – believed to be the first of its kind – is needed to fill a ‘critical gap in the chain of crisis information’ that often leads to un-coordinated action and delays in the early phases of relief operations.
‘Communities affected by disasters often find themselves cut off from information and aid,’ it said. ‘Information itself is aid, as crucial as shelter or blankets, so the action units will provide reliable, actionable information to help empower survivors to be architects of their own recovery.’
The units will be delivered through the Thomson Reuters Foundation and will be operated in partnership with the Red Cross. Journalists will be given some background training in how to cope with various types of humanitarian disaster.
Thomson Reuters has acquired the Swiss-based corporate responsibility information provider Asset4, which was founded in 2003.
Reuters had an existing data supply deal with Asset4, but may have been tempted into the takeover by the introduction of a CSR research service by its rival Bloomberg, the US business news company.
Peter Ohnemus, Asset4’s chief executive, said: ‘Thomson Reuters is the natural choice to take the extra-financial information and tools that Asset4 has built over the last five years to a truly global and mainstream client base.’
Asset4 clients include Bank Sarasin, Storebrand and Societe Generale.
The purchase of the company is the latest move in a trend towards consolidation in the corporate responsibility research market. RiskMetrics, KLD Research and Analytics, Innovest, Centre Info, INrate, Jantzi Research and Sustainalytics have all been involved in mergers or acquisitions over recent months.