The Bloomberg Lesson: How a fledgling news organization got big while others shrank.

Media criticism.
Oct. 5 2006 7:24 PM

The Bloomberg Lesson

How a fledgling news organization got big while others shrank.

(Continued from Page 1)

Daily newspapers didn't see the lucrative news and information opportunity Bloomberg did for the same reason they didn't enter the Web search business when it was green. As mature and graying industries, newspapers are mortified by the creative destruction of changing markets, so they take only tiny and confused steps—mostly backwards. Years after the Web had made newspaper stock tables obsolete, the dailies started to prune and discontinue them, but how many added something of greater value in the form of new columnists or graphs that explained changing markets? Bloomberg's genius, and I don't use that term lightly, was to exploit how deeply people who need information will dig into their pockets to pay for it.

Having stolen the financial presses' lunch by Hoovering every available number into its computers, the Bloomberg machine has targeted the Washington beat. In March of this year, Al Hunt, who heads Bloomberg's Washington bureau, put his press colleagues on notice when he told U.S. News & World Report'sWeb site about additions to his economic team and plans to hire more journalists to cover the Securities and Exchange Commission. As of March, Bloomberg's D.C. bureau employed 120 people. As a point of comparison, that's about three times the size of the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau.

Advertisement

"Our principal mandate is to cover anything that has money written on it, anything that affects markets," Hunt said. That sounds like Congress, the White House, the courts, and the regulatory agencies. At $1,425 per month, Bloomberg ain't the people's news. But at a time when newspaper readership is declining and newspapers are shriveling, Bloomberg is growing. There's a lesson in that.

******

Did I say that Bloomberg pays well but forces its reporters to work harder than mules carrying hods of bricks up ladders? Oh, that sounds like fun to you? Don't send your résumé to me. Track Al Hunt down and pester him. All other inquiries, including those from the famous Bloomberg sales staff, should go to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Shafer's hand-built RSS feed.

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.