Former Bloomberg News editor emphasizes preparation in business reporting

(Caleb Manning/DD)
(Caleb Manning/DD)
Matthew Winkler told journalism students at the Cronkite School that they should view problems as opportunities to succeed. (Caleb Manning/DD)

Accuracy and preparedness are the keys to business journalism, according to former Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler.

He described the “Bloomberg way” to an audience at the Walter Cronkite School on Monday as a company mindset of seeing each problem as an opportunity.

Winkler spoke to the audience about how the staff at Bloomberg solved their biggest problem in the company’s early stages. They made themselves a viable news source by giving a Bloomberg Terminal to the New York Times.

“So the next thing you know, we had 40-plus newspapers in major cities publishing Bloomberg news every day,” Winkler said. “So, it’s like an even bigger problem becoming an opportunity.”

Bloomberg also has its own way of writing that uses superlatives instead of adjectives or adverbs, according to Winkler.

“You want to have a superlative that puts into context the scope of what happened,” he said. “The reader has a definite appreciation for what that means.”

The organization encourages writers to set their standards high for reporting, rigorously upholding and proving the quality of their work and showing why and how a story is true, Winkler said.

“The best reporting is reporting that is precise. It’s accurate and impactful, therefore the best reporting must be all about examples and anecdotes,” Winkler said. “Nothing should ever be accepted as a faceless fact — everything that is asserted should be proved in some way.”

When Bloomberg News began, it was a “marriage” of wire services with narratives. The organization started publishing multimedia stories, which is now the standard for many news sources.

“You could read it at length or you could read it in brief … you could listen to it if you wanted to, you could watch it,” Winkler said. “It matters that you deliver the story every way you possibly can.”

Bloomberg’s commitment to accuracy resonates through original stories and in-depth journalism, said Molly Kissler, a Cronkite School graduate who is now a speed desk editor for Bloomberg News.

“We measure whatever we do quite extensively, to one hundredth of a second,” Kissler said. She continued on to explain that journalists have to know when the news is going to occur, which plays a role in preparing for the story.

Winkler told the audience that storytelling is determining a story’s surprise element and answering issues before the story is completed. He said a way to report “fast and first” is by taking the time to prepare and map out the story beforehand.

He advised journalists to “go forth unafraid” by constantly learning and staying aware of the unknown variables.

Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at the Cronkite School, advised young journalists to show that they think about what goes on internationally in order to find career success.

“No matter how smart or quick you are, you are unable to write a thoughtful story in 20 seconds unless you’ve thought about it a lot,” he said.

Correction: October 27, 2015: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Molly Kissler’s name.

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