01 May 2014

Follow the Money: The Failure of Corporately Owned Journalism in a Crony Capitalist System

"I have been told by multiple members of the media that JP Morgan Chase has called them and stated that if their media outlet has me on television again, that JP Morgan Chase will pull their advertising from the offending network."

James Koutoulas, Founder of Commodity Customer Coalition and advocate for victims of MF Global

"The crisis blew into public view last November when The New York Times, followed by the Financial Times and others, reported that a big, new enterprise project from Bloomberg, said to have documented an extensive web of corrupt ties between one of China’s wealthiest businessmen and elite politicians, had been spiked at an unusually late stage in the editing process.

The reported spike came after an extensively footnoted version of the story had been fact-checked and pored over by company lawyers, and after members of the reporting team had been praised internally for yet more stellar work. The Times reported that Winkler, in a conference call with reporters, defended the decision not to publish the story by likening the situation to the need for self-censorship by foreign bureaus in Nazi Germany to preserve their ability to continue reporting there.

That reasoning was controversial enough, but a Bloomberg executive would later let slip a motive that was even more problematic...The defining moment, however, the one that has dealt the deepest shock to Bloomberg and may affect it for years, was a widely reported speech by the company’s chairman, Peter T. Grauer, who in March said, in effect, that Bloomberg had gotten carried away with its investigative journalism in China to the detriment of its true vocation: selling computerized terminals that provide financial information.

“We have about 50 journalists in the market, primarily writing stories about the local business and economic environment,” Grauer said in answer to a questioner after a speech at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. “You’re all aware that every once in a while we wander a little bit away from that and write stories that we probably may have kind of rethought—should have rethought.”

Howard W. French, Bloomberg's Folly, Columbia Journalism Review, May 1, 2014

Read the entire story here.