Cracking the codes



Many clients rely on our coding system to search for and access our news, so it is important that we deliver exactly the news they are looking for. A missed code can be a missed story as far as the client is concerned. Overcoding, on the other hand, dulls the efficiency of searches – not only for clients, but for colleagues who rely on our systems in their daily work. Sloppy coding can mean that our news doesn’t get read when it should, and it means clients think we’re behind on stories when often we’re ahead.

Deskers can help to ensure that the work of reporters is not “wasted” through improper coding. Reporters, especially specialist reporters, can help by applying topic codes to stories sent to the desk.

There are eight main code types:

  • Product codes parallel the news products sold to terminal clients
  • Topic codes break down each product by topic, making searches easier
  • Reuters Instrument Codes(RICs) allow clients to click through from a story to data about any financial instruments
  • Country codes identify the countries involved
  • Named item codes help clients locate routine reports – e.g. market reports, Top News summaries, diaries, press digests and guest columns, and are usually imbedded in a proforma or system template
  • Category codes allow media subscribers to sort stories into baskets – e.g. routing sports copy to the sports department basket
  • Auto-generated codes include codes used mainly to sort (i.e. include and exclude) stories available for distribution on Internet services

Coding guidelines

Topic codes are applied to stories ABOUT a topic, not a topic of interest to a particular sector or country (that is what product codes are for). If the topic code doesn’t explain what the story is about, don’t use it. An economic indicator may be of interest to the foreign exchange market, but it is NOT a forex story so it would not take the FRX topic code. Stories about Afghanistan might be of interest to readers in Pakistan, but would not carry the PK country code. Similarly, the codes OPEC, IMF, G7 and EU should be used only on stories ABOUT these organisations themselves – not on stories about member countries.

For more on codes, see the Reuters News Coding page on the Hub

To search any product, topic, or named item code, see the code lookup tool

It is possible to add topic codes after the story is filed – but NOT product codes. You CAN add product codes to a newsbreak covering an alert. To add a topic code to a story that has already been filed, simply double click on it in the publish basket and add the appropriate code and click "Publish". Reporters should try to apply topic codes to stories they file to the desks. Stories landing on the desks should at least carry the country topic code and the main subject code – for instance, POL for politics.

Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs)

Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs), or ticker symbols, are crucial in helping customers find news and market data. All financial instruments -- stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities -- as well as many types of economic data have RICs.

It is essential to include the RIC in the Lynx Editor header field and in the story itself. The main reason is to make sure clients see news on the underlying instruments and help them link to related news, data, prices and charts. Adding RICs also makes it much easier to analyse readership and timings data.

Economic data that are listed on the ECON pages have RICs. These are increasingly used by clients to trigger real-time trades and to create historical graphs. You can find the RIC by double clicking on the name of the indicator in the ECON tables. Please add this RIC into Lynx Editor header field for the specific story on the latest economic indicator release. Do not use it in every single story that mentions that piece of data, however, or you will swamp clients with tangential news. The RIC also must be entered into the Lynx Alerting table when you are injecting live data updates to screens

Company RICs need to be inserted into alerts. The RIC follows the first mention of a company in the body of the story. A traditional company RIC looks like this: IBM is the ticker symbol for the company and .N is the exchange identifier (the NYSE in this case) New market regulations such as Mifid in Europe and NMS in the United States have created alternative trading venues and new sets of RICs. For the time being, Reuters news will insert the traditional company RICs with exchange identifiers. Many unlisted companies and entities also have RICs. These are identified with square brackets and a UL (unlisted) identifier instead of an exchange identifier (e.g. [TPG.UL] for U.S. buyout firm TPG).

It is vital that reporters and sub-editors use the RIC look-up in Lynx Editor to find the correct RIC. Don’t guess if you aren’t sure. Company RICs change at the rate of about 200 a month. If you pick up an unfamiliar RIC from an old story on Kobra/Eikon it may be wrong. Deskers must check RICs as they would any other checkable fact in the story.

A wrong RIC is an error of fact in a story and must be corrected, just like any other substantive error. We use refiles to clean up “dead RICs,” or RICs that are no longer in use and do not lead to any live quote or financial instrument.

If an alert or a story doesn’t carry the right RIC, clients simply don’t see the news. A wrong or missing RIC also means the news “flag” on live quote displays for any of the financial instruments are not activated. A wrong company RIC especially if it is linked to a “bad news” story, can have serious impact on the wrongly identified company.

Full lists of both listed and unlisted RICs, updated regularly, are available in the Lynx Editor database.

Strip all RICs from Business News Schedules.

Guidance for checking RICs

Once you have a RIC list on your editing screen in Lynx Editor, scroll down the list to compare the FULL name against the choices. Also check topic and country codes provided in the RIC list.

Next, type the RIC into the RIC box on the right-hand corner on this page: http://cemplookup/search/company.aspx. Make sure you have the right one.

You can also type the RIC into a news window on 3000 Xtra/Eikon and hit return, which will enable you to see previous Reuters news about the company or instrument. You can also cross check the RIC in a 3000 Xtra/Eikon QUOTE window to check to see if the instrument is trading.

Ensure the RIC you plan to use is the same as the one used on previous stories about the company. If a RIC search doesn’t pull up any stories, you have a problem. If you cannot find the RIC on Kobra/Eikon, try calling up stories by using the name of the company or instrument, using hyphens to connect the names and surrounding any word with three letters or fewer with quotation marks (e.g. “IBM”).

If in doubt, ask senior reporters, who may be aware of problem RICs.

Tips for avoiding RIC errors:

  • Make sure you do not have a false RIC of a company with a similar name, or that you have put the RIC of a publicly traded company on news about a private company with a similar or identical name.
  • Short name searches are dangerous – too many companies have similar names. In searches, use the full company name with correct capitalisation.
  • Some of the most difficult-to-locate RICs are in the software industry, where internal capital letters are common in company names, such as RealNetworks. Other extremely problematic company names are those with unusual punctuation, such as B.A.T Industries Plc (no period after the T). Also watch companies that have an ampersand (&) or “And” in their names.
  • Familiarise yourself with well-known acronyms (e.g. IBM).
  • Some major companies have multiple RICs as they trade in many places. As a rule, use the mother RIC on first reference. If it’s a dual-listed company, such as a company with ADRs or GDRs, insert the ADR/GDR RICs in the copy.
  • When you find an incorrect or problematic RIC, tell your desk head.

Service messages

(N.B. Lynx has no service message function and operational messages are exchanged using email, the Message Panel in the Lynx Editor or Reuters Messaging)."

Any detailed news editing done on Reuters Messaging, by screen-top or on the telephone should be followed up with an email detailing what has been discussed and agreed. This way, all concerned are in the loop and there is less room for misunderstanding.

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