Reports have come out that Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Winkler, cancelled investigative stories on China to protect company interests, NY Times reports:
The decision came in an early evening call to four journalists huddled in a Hong Kong conference room. On the line 12 time zones away in New York was their boss, Matthew Winkler, the longtime editor in chief of Bloomberg News. And they were frustrated by what he was telling them.
The investigative report they had been working on for the better part of a year, which detailed the hidden financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, would not be published.
Last month, Winkler defended his decision to curtail stories, analogizing it to self-censorship by foreign news bureaus trying to protect their reporting interests inside Nazi Germany.” Which may be a bit more insulting to China than the “outrageous” Jimmy Kimmel Skit, but we digress.
Then last week, Winkler did a total 180 and denied allegations that he killed investigative stories:
Mr. Winkler said in an email on Friday that the articles in question were not killed. “What you have is untrue,” he said. “The stories are active and not spiked.”
His statement was echoed by the senior editor on the articles, Laurie Hays.
Mr. Winkler and several other senior executives at Bloomberg declined to discuss his conference calls with reporters and editors in Hong Kong.
Several Bloomberg employees in Hong Kong said Mr. Winkler made clear in his call that his concerns were primarily about continuing to have reporters work in China, not protecting company revenues. Even so, they said, he gave the listeners a clear impression that the company was in retreat on aspects of its coverage of the world’s second-largest economy, a little more than a year after it locked horns with a confident Chinese leadership that has shown itself willing to punish foreign news organizations that cross it.
The incident they’re referring to is when Bloomberg got harmonized off the Chinese internet (with reporters even receiving death threats) two summers ago for reporting on the family assets of Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping.
Now obviously multinational companies censor themselves to appear on the Chinese internet, because most of them would be crazy not to – remember when Google threatened to pull out of China due to the censorship laws, before they came to their senses and realized they needed the Chinese market. But when a news bureau like Bloomberg that professes transparency and fair reporting curtails major investigations, yeah, kind of hurts the credibility.
NMA, as usual, has the best breakdown of the scandal