By Christopher B. Daly
I admit to being a little puzzled about recent stories concerning Bloomberg’s coverage of China. I think the NYTimes is trying to tell us something but is constrained by journalistic conventions. Reading between the lines, here’s what I think the Times is trying to say:
A reporter for Bloomberg named Michael Forsythe wrote a terrific article exposing how the powerful in China become rich. His editors, including editor in chief Matthew Winkler, got cold feet out the fear that the article would anger the powerful in China, who would retaliate against Bloomberg by refusing to buy any more of Bloomberg’s profitable capital-tracking machines (and maybe by blocking Bloomberg content from reaching the huge Chinese market). So, the squelched the article, which has yet to appear.
Now the other shoes are starting to drop:
–The reporter was “suspended” (whatever that means).
–Last week, veteran journalist and stand-up editor Amanda Bennett (whom I knew in college, and she was a tough cookie back then) announced that she was leaving Bloomberg.
I suspect that Bloomberg top execs are opting for short-term gain over long-term investment. When the NYTimes ran a similar expose about China’s “Princelings,” the Times news report was banned in China — although the Times‘ correspondents were not kicked out of the country. That means that, for now, Times ads are not seen by a huge potential audience. But that’s just a temporary hit. In the longer run, the Times has established itself as a truly independent news operation, and I know that the rising generation of Chinese journalists admire the Times. Ultimately, I think the Times will come out on top and will be flourishing in China long after Bloomberg terminals are tossed onto the dustbin of history.
If you have figured this all out, please leave a comment.