Reuters and the South African press at the end of Empire

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    At the end of the Second World War, Reuters' status as a leading independent world news agency was under threat. While seeking to be a 'world agency', 'Reuters' ownership was vested entirely in the British press. Decolonisation threatened traditional sources of revenue. American agencies were rapidly extending their global reach. In response, Reuters sought to re-constitute itself as a 'British Commonwealth' agency by offering a stake in the company to the national press organisations of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and India. In the event, the plan largely failed. South Africa and Canada declined to join; India maintained its shareholding for just four years. Only the press associations of Australia and New Zealand remained enthusiastic supporters. This article examines the failed 1947 negotiations between Reuters and the South African Press Association (SAPA), which were aimed at securing a partnership between the two organisations. It critiques Reuters' idea of a commonwealth of interest in matters of international news, conceived at a time of decolonisation and emerging nationalisms. It examines SAPA's stance towards Reuters in the light of South Africa's political situation, including the growing influence of the Afrikaans press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-58
    Number of pages18
    JournalCritical Arts
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


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