Response to a Bloomberg editor’s apologia

“I understand that people dislike the “media.” Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes we’re more concerned about amassing web clicks and TV viewers than about getting the story right. Sometimes we tell people things they would rather not hear. Oddly, though, I’ve never in almost 38 years of being a reporter and editor had anyone criticize me to my face about my profession.”

Mr Gruley, I was not previously familiar with your work, though I took a quick look and it seemed solid.

If it’s your experience that nobody has criticised the work of Bloomberg news to your face, perhaps it is because we have never met, though it’s also not the sort of thing anyone does much of in a social context these days, particularly given the readership of Bloomberg’s paying audience. I did have some correspondence with Peter Grauer about it before he left though.

People have different styles, and I certainly wouldn’t have put it that way. But starting with things closer to home : I found your coverage of some aspects of the financial crisis and its long aftermath quite disgraceful. The JPMorgan Whale affair was just the tip of the iceberg — in that case there is not much subtlety about the impropriety of using your customers’ information not intended to be used by your news organisation in order to write hostile pieces attacking them at a time when the matter was still under investigation. I don’t recall reading any soul-searching pieces from your organisation regarding journalistic ethics following that and some similar episodes.

Seeing you join in the unreflective, economically illiterate mode of banker bashing at a time when the future kind of economy we are to have seemed seriously in question — I don’t think that was your proudest moment, and yet there have been many such episodes.

I have been a Bloomberg user since the early 90s and subscribed personally to the terminal for a couple of years. I don’t read your economic or political commentary very often because it’s lacking in insight and the same old tired filter bubble that never seems to learn from past mistakes. Bloomberg believes in diversity, but how about some intellectual diversity? You might have for example an honest Marxist, or one of the more thoughtful Austrian economists writing for you. It’s impossible to imagine someone like Judy Shelton or John Allison writing for you — now why is that?

How many contrarians do you have writing for you? There’s also in general a superficiality and focus on ephemeral things that aren’t important. The deep drivers of events are not those in the headlines, but if one wants to understand those one certainly won’t get a picture from Bloomberg News.

You do have some pretty good journalists — Zeke Faux isn’t bad, for example.

When I am criticised, this may not be my immediate reaction, but I try to see to what extent the criticism might be well founded, however much I disagree with the mode of expression. This is missing in the media today, especially with Bloomberg News.

I don’t really care about Trump — this is a topic I have been reading and writing a little about for a few years now, and Marc Faber published some of the stuff by others I sent him on this topic.

How about listening to what intelligent and non partisan observers have to say, and dropping the defensiveness? Does Neil Postman have a point, for example?

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