Reuters Best this week: Richard Branson exclusive interview, Beijing terrorist attack coverage, & more01 Nov 2013
CONVERSATION STARTER – Reuters took readers to an unusual travel destination by looking at how tensions dating from the 1950s mix with theme park rides at the heavily fortified border that separates North and South Korea. The story – “Tank traps meet tourist traps at Korea’s demilitarized zone” – uses rich imagery to show the odd blend of tackiness and historical relevance in an area that symbolizes the deep divide between the booming, modern South and the reclusive, unpredictable North. The Reuters story and photos were used by websites and newspapers around the world.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK – Reuters scored an exclusive TV interview with Virgin CEO Richard Branson to mark his 40 years in business. Branson provided a great quote about being in tears as he received a billion dollar check after he sold Virgin Records to EMI in 1992, partly to finance his airline. He said “it was very hard – it’s like selling your children.” The Reuters interview was hours ahead of the competition.
POLITICS – The U.S. House of Representatives has rediscovered the formula for an end to gridlock after a month of partisan warfare: $8 billion worth of harbor dredging, dam and lock construction and other federal waterway improvements. Following a government shutdown and the technological woes of President Obama’s health law, Reuters took an insightful look at how the Water Resources Reform and Development Act was a reminder of the allure of traditional home-district spending and its healing power in an age of division.
GENERAL – Reuters was ahead of competitors with key details after a vehicle burst into flames in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square, in what police have called a terrorist attack. The Reuters Photo of the Week (above) shows smoke billowing in front of a portrait of Chairman Mao, summing up the drama of the incident in the heart of the Chinese capital. Additionally, Reuters was first to report the suspected terrorist attack, first to confirm that police were probing a connection to Xinjiang in China’s far west and ahead again in reporting China’s leadership suspected it was carried out by ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority from Xinjiang.
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JOURNALIST SPOTLIGHT – In a Special Report on Friday, Reuters revealed the high risk and exploitation of workers at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Antoni Slodkowski and Mari Saito reported that the project to shut down the crippled reactor and decontaminate surrounding villages and towns has become a nightmare unto itself. Reuters found that already low wages are being skimmed by inexperienced contractors – some with ties to organized crime – and their brokers, working conditions are often appalling and dangerous, and workers who complain are routinely fired. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Antoni, a Reuters correspondent in Tokyo, offers an inside look at the reporting behind their revealing Special Report.
BUSINESS – Reuters reported exclusively that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) did a test run of Twitter’s highly anticipated market debut, seeking to avoid the types of problems that plagued Facebook’s initial public offering on rival Nasdaq. The testing can be viewed as part of NYSE’s struggle with Nasdaq for supremacy in technology listings. Both exchanges vied to be home to Twitter’s stock, and many analysts said the trading disruptions that occurred on Facebook’s Nasdaq debut likely played to NYSE’s favor.
POLITICS – Opposition lawmakers in Japan used a Reuters poll in parliament to put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the spot over his economic policies. Abe was forced to respond to the findings of the Reuters Corporate Survey which revealed more than 40 percent of companies asked have no plans to spend or invest funds generated by his planned corporate tax cut. Abe responded by saying the conservative stance towards new investment, as highlighted by the Reuters poll, was the reason his government needed to take action.