Amy Chozick of The New York Times examines the reporting tactics of Bloomberg News reporters in the wake of the disclosure that some were using the company’s terminal to snoop on clients.
Chozick writes, “Since the 1990s, reporters have been trained and tested on the terminal’s 15,000 functions. Many of them leave the weeklong training session baffled by the machines — which one employee likened to a ‘Soviet tank of an operating system.’ But others, especially those who cover the core beats of business and finance, try to one-up each other on grasping the intricacies of the terminal tools.
“‘You could see a map of every ship at sea that has cargo carrying orange juice,’ said one reporter who recently left the company. ‘Or, someone would say ‘Check out UUID. Ben Bernanke was logged on today.”
“The ability to produce market-moving news had financial rewards for journalists: it was among the top metrics in determining reporters’ performance in 2012, according to a copy of the company evaluation obtained by The New York Times. The drive for market-moving news only added to the allure of tapping into the terminals’ troves of data, said several of the current and former reporters interviewed.
“Peter K. Semler, who started Bloomberg’s Italy bureau in the 1990s, remembered using UUID to trace, for example, where the chief executive of Fiat had logged on. ‘If you see the guy in Chicago or Kansas you can guess what he’s doing,’ said Mr. Semler, who left the company in 1995, and founded the financial news service Capitol Intelligence Group, which competes with Bloomberg.
“‘Reporters, we’re snoopy guys. We read everyone’s stuff,’ Mr. Semler added. ‘If you had access to something you weren’t supposed to have, the first thing we’d do was go into that.'”
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