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"We come together in St Bride's, Fleet Street, spiritual home of all who work in the media, to give thanks for the work and achievements of Reuters, the news agency, founded by Julius Reuter in 1851, and which has occupied 85 Fleet Street as its head office since 1939.
Twenty-four hours every day throughout the war the Reuter news agency service was an integral part of every newspaper office in the land. After the war, the agency continued its expansion across the world; its aim, to record every event of significant news interest whenever and wherever it happened.
In 1962 Reuters became the first international agency to link Moscow with London, and to transmit news by satellite. During the next twenty years it established a dominant position as a database of international financial information. It embraced computer technology with enthusiasm, providing its customers in the media, the financial markets and the corporate world with an authoritative and accurate picture of a scene that is in a constant state of flux.
As you move to new premises in Canary Wharf in 2005, responding to new challenges and opportunities, you continue to follow the example of your founder, always committed to maintaining the standards of accuracy, speed and impartiality which he set.
As you leave this street whose name has become synonymous with the press throughout the world, we your neighbours at St Bride's, pray for wisdom to guide you, for courage to attend you and for vision to inspire you.
Lord God of our beginnings and endings we celebrate Reuters' time in Fleet Street and we ask your blessing as they journey to their new home. May the power of your Presence bless this moment of leave-taking, and go with them now and always. Amen."
So began the service on June 15th 2005 to mark the departure of the Reuters news agency to Canary Wharf and so end the slow demise of Fleet Street as the home of journalism. But as Canon David Meara, who led the service, said:
"This has widely been reported as the last rites of Fleet Street. Fleet Street as a geographical home is now just a deserted village full of ghosts and memories, but it remains the generic name for the press everywhere and St Bride's remains the spiritual home for the industry."
Rupert Murdoch gave the first reading, Ecclesiastes 44: 1-15. Addresses were given by Tom Glocer (CEO of Reuters), Alexander Chancellor, and Canon Meara (transcripts of addresses).
The choir of St Bride's, directed by Robert Jones and accompanied by Matthew Morley sang:
Psalm 121 - Walford-Davies
My Beloved Spake - Hadley
Beati Quorum Via - Stanford
The Heavens Are Telling - Haydn
In My Life - Lennon & McCartney (arr. Jordan & Buckley)
Links to Press Articles
Reuters - Murdoch returns for Fleet Street's last rites, Jeffrey Goldfarb
The Guardian - Murdoch's final lesson for Fleet Street, Mark Lawson
The Times - Fleet Street left to the Bash Street kids as press withdraws, Alan Hamilton
The Independent - Murdoch sees the sun set on Fleet Street, Ciar Byrne
BBC - Farewell Fleet Street, Bill Hagerty
Tom Glocer Today is an important day for Reuters, and I dare say, for Fleet Street as well.
For centuries Fleet Street has represented both the best and the worst of British journalism. From the "Street of Shame" that revelled in scandal and gossip, to the street that gloried in the objective search for truth, this part of London has been home to generations of men and women who toiled with their pens and with their brains.
Reuters has always strived to live up to the best of that tradition, forging through hard work and sacrifice a record true to the Reuters Trust principles and truthful to our many customers.
Reuters commenced operations in London in 1851. We first moved to this media district in 1923, to Carmelite Street around the corner. The Fleet Street headquarters were opened in 1939, just before the second world war. And since then 85 Fleet Street has been a talismanic address for thousands of Reuters staff, clients, and associates. Great things have been achieved in that famous building.
One of those achievements was the flotation of Reuters itself which helped liberate the newspaper industry in this country. It was with the proceeds of that flotation that some of the newspapers represented here today financed their move from Fleet Street.
Of course, there are sensible reasons for our own move to Canary Wharf. Our people have been scattered across 10 different offices and our journalists have long since abandoned Fleet Street for the efficiency of the ITN Building. Moreover, as a global news agency, our ethos has been as strong in Cape Town as in Beijing, in Washington as in London. And in an internet-linked world, the location of our physical headquarters is ever less important.
Nonetheless, we will miss Fleet Street and we will mark our commitment to the spirit of this great street by continuing to support St. Brides Church - the journalist's church.
As we transfer our headquarters from Fleet Street to Canary Wharf, I am confident that we are taking with us just what we have nurtured here: a commitment to society, to the truth, to the profession of journalism and to our principles of fairness, objectivity and freedom from bias. And that is a commitment to the best of what Fleet Street has always meant.
Canon David Meara
From pigeon post to plasma screens and present-day computer and satellite technology - the story of Reuters is an extraordinary one by any standards. It all began over 150 years ago, but then as now the guiding watchwords have always been truth, honesty and impartiality.
Indeed Punch magazine in 1944 adapted the famous phrase of Keats (from his Ode on a Grecian Urn) to declare :-
'Reuter is truth, truth Reuter - that is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know'.
But high-flown principles need people to put them into practice and uphold them, and today it is the people who over the years have served this great organisation whom we particularly remember and celebrate - colleagues, friends, fellow-journalists - many gathered here today, many no longer with us, some who died in the pursuit of those facts which are the bedrock of the company.
And now a new chapter is beginning as you leave your headquarters of the past 65 years and move down to Canary Wharf. As you go, I simply want to reflect on the extraordinary fact that we are doing what we are doing; not the fact that we are gathered together, but that we are gathered here, in this church, and what that means.
For over 500 years, ever since Wynkyn de Worde brought his printing press from Westminster and set it up at the corner of St Bride's Churchyard, this church has been the spiritual home for all involved in printing, newspaper-making, journalism, broadcasting and the wider media world. This church has witnessed the baptisms, marriages and burials of booksellers, writers journalists, broadcasters and proprietors; we have celebrated the lives of those killed on foreign assignments, amongst them Farzad Bazoft, John Schofield, Kerem Lawton, Daniel Pearl and Mazan Dana. We remember in prayer and at the Journalists' Altar journalists whose lives are at risk for speaking the truth and those who have lost their lives covering conflicts around the world, especially in Iraq. Here, in this parish where printing was transformed from a medieval mystery into a mind-moulding mass communicator, you are remembered and your work is valued. It is a unique relationship. Nothing like it exists between the Church and any other of the business and professional groups which have such deep roots in London.
That is why we are here today - because this is a place where people in the media industry have been and continue to be valued. This service has been widely reported in the media as the last rites of the Old Fleet Street and in a sense it is. Fleet Street as the geographical home of the Pres is now a deserted village, full of ghosts and memories. But it remains the generic name for the press everywhere, now a virtual community scattered across London and beyond, and St Bride's remains the Spiritual home for the industry and is proud to continue to fulfil that role for the media, and of course for Reuters. So although we are sadly bidding you farewell, you at Reuters and all who work in journalism remain part of the indefinable dispersed fellowship of Fleet Street, wherever you work and wherever you go. So as today we commemorate the end of an era, and bid farewell to a very good neighbour, we send you on your way with the blessing of St Bride, and with the prayer that the bonds that unite us remain strong and unbroken.