The new logo of Thomson Reuters is seen on their Times Square building on April 17, 2008 in New York. ( Getty Images North America / CHRIS HONDROS)

Posts falsely claim Rothschild family 'owns Reuters and Associated Press'

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media posts circulating since at least 2014 claim the Rothschild family, a prominent European banking family, owns global news agencies Reuters and the Associated Press (AP). This is false; Reuters is controlled by The Woodbridge Company, which has no connection with the Rothschild family, while AP is a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

The claim was shared here on Facebook by an Australia-based user on March 23, 2022.

"There are 6 media companies today. There used to be 88. All 6 get their news from Reuters and Associated Press. Reuters owns AP and Rothschilds own Reuters," reads the claim.

It was shared alongside a photo of Jacob Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild family and founder of RIT Capital Partners plc.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on May 5, 2022.

The Rothschild family is the most famous of all European banking dynasties, having had a significant impact on Europe's economic and, indirectly, political history for more than two centuries.

The family has been frequently targeted by misinformation, as debunked by AFP here and here.

It is not clear which six or 88 media companies the post was referring to as the total number of media companies in the world exceeds both these figures.

Besides Reuters and AP, there are also several other major news agencies -- including AFP -- which supply the world's media with multimedia content. 

An identical photo has been shared on Facebook here and here alongside the same claim.

A similar claim has circulated here, here, and here on Twitter since at least 2014.

However, the claim is false. 

Reuters news agency

Headquartered in the British capital of London, Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world.

It was acquired by the Thomson Reuters Corporation (TR), a Canadian multinational media conglomerate, in 2008.

The Woodbridge Company (Woodbridge) is the principal and controlling shareholder of TR, owning 67 percent of its common shares, according to the 2021 Thomson Reuters annual report.

"Woodbridge controls our company and is in a position to affect our governance and operations," the report reads in part. The Rothschild family is not mentioned in the report. 

Woodbridge, the Thomson family investment company, is headed by Peter J Thomson and David K R Thomson. 

Woodbridge's ownership of TR is detailed in this filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission dated December 31, 2021.

An index of US mainstream media ownership compiled by Harvard University researchers also shows that Reuters is owned by TR.

Associated Press

The claim that Reuters owns AP is also false. 

AP is an "independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, owned by no one," a spokesperson at AP told AFP on May 4. "Reuters does not own AP."

According to a report published by Cornell University’s Roper Center, AP is "neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism."

The Harvard index also states that: "AP was founded as an independent news cooperative, whose members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters."

As of May 9, AFP found no official reports or statements to support the claim that the Rothschild family owns Reuters and AP. 

The 2021 annual report by Rothschild & Co, the flagship of the Rothschild banking groups controlled by the family, makes no mention of its ownership or investment in the two global news agencies.