CJR Criticizes Bloomberg News' Policy on Reporting on Itself, Parent Company

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Bloomberg News disclosed in its report on the top billionaires that it didn't include its owner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Credit: Bloomberg, screenshot, highlight added)

Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum questioned Bloomberg News’s lack of reporting on its owner, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As a noteworthy example: Bloomberg’s top twenty list “Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Today’s Ranking of the World’s Richest People” doesn’t include Bloomberg himself. A note on the Bloomberg News story reads, according to Chittum and New York City blog Gothamist:

“Bloomberg News editorial policy is to not cover Bloomberg LP. As a result Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, won’t be considered for this ranking.”

 Meanwhile, Forbes‘ list of billionaires includes Michael Bloomberg. Matched with Bloomberg’s list, Michael Bloomberg should have been on his own news company’s top twenty list, CJR noted.

This incident “shows why excluding yourself from coverage, particularly when you’re a major player, is a bad idea,” Chittum wrote.  As Chittum explained: “Its well intentioned-but-overly-rigid conflicts-of-interest policy means it’s okay for it to write about its competitor but not about itself—a major player in the media and information businesses.”

In a previous post, Chittum explained that “PR folks” for Bloomberg News said the company’s policy permits reporting on news about Bloomberg only if “other news organizations report” the information first.

Chittum noted that the policy doesn’t mesh with other media corporations’s practices, like News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal, which covers its parent company, and ABC News’s coverage of its parent company Walt Disney Company.

Bloomberg News told iMediaEthics that “we stand by our reporting.”

We wrote in March of last year about the newly-announced Bloomberg News “op-ed project” Bloomberg View, which was described as an editorial effort to show “the views of Mr. Bloomberg himself.”  In April, the New York Times highlighted the complicated job of Bloomberg LP’s writer Henry Goldman, who covers Bloomberg himself. As the Times explained, Goldman must avoid “looking like a shill” while still working for his company.


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CJR Criticizes Bloomberg News’ Policy on Reporting on Itself, Parent Company

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