Bloomberg News at a crossroads
Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review writes Monday that the incident involving Bloomberg News stories in China is much more serious for the news organization than when its reporters were accused earlier this year of snooping on clients using the terminal.
Starkman writes, “This is actually much more important for Bloomberg News as a news operation than the terminal mini-scandal was. In the latter case, the interests at risk were business interests, and Bloomberg LP moved in and stomped out the problem with a shock-and-awe campaign of scrutiny and disclosure. No one doubts that Bloomberg will protect its business interests.
“Here, the allegation is that journalism interests were sacrificed. Now, Winkler is quoted in the Wong story as saying on the conference call that his concern was about the organization being thrown out of China and left unable to report the news. That’s a legitimate journalistic concern—sort of—but news organizations and/or reporters are not infrequently thrown out of countries that object to one story or other. It happens. And it’s a problematic reason to not run a true story. After all, who knows what will trigger ejection, and how do you base editorial decisions on that probability? Coincidentally, we see that Reuters’s veteran Paul Mooney was just denied a visa by China. That, of course, speaks well of him and of Reuters.
“Bloomberg won’t comment on the accuracy of the conference call anecdote but says flatly that editorial considerations alone drove the decision. As Winkler told the FT: ‘The reporting as presented to me was not ready for publication. Laurie and other top editors agreed.'”
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