And here’s why it doesn’t want to. Market-moving news (I assume we’re talking about earnings, M&A scoops, executive appointments, and the like) is all about the short-term horizons at the expense of the big picture. Anyone who thinks the fact of endemic corruption at the top the Chinese leadership isn’t important or relevant to investors in China—and everyone else—in the medium to long term isn’t thinking straight. It also grossly underestimates terminal subscribers’ range of interests.

I’m not saying anyone would put it that way, but that’s rather the choice as framed by the Secunda/Winkler debate, which is not new to journalism by any means.

This kind of heavy lifting by news organizations will always involve difficult conflict and confrontation with powerful governments and institutions. If you think you can outsource such work to the Times or others, that’s a business decision. But terminal users will be relying on others for the big stuff, and that’s probably a bad idea.

You don’t have to go back too far to realize that we’ve seen to this movie before, and recently. The big picture, and, yes, systemic corruption, was exactly what was missing journalistically in the run-up to the crash of 2008, as (plug alert) I discuss at considerable length in my book.

So in the Secunda/Winkler debate, even from a narrow investors’ point of view, Winkler is right. And while Winkler tries to quantify the newsroom’s value by how often it is clicked, the fact is it has added enormously to the Bloomberg brand as a world-class organization, even if the value is difficult to quantify.

The value comes from the news organization’s independence, and that’s why the church-state divide was created in the first place.

 

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.