Our recent conversation was more or less one-way—a stream of facts, figures, names, dates and places—with Czelusniak looking up supporting information on the Bloomberg terminal, which involves typing a command and a key labeled: GO. I occasionally stammer a question.
Winkler’s message is that Bloomberg is as good or better than anyone else, and just as influential. The fact flow is relentless.
He says, for instance, that the Bloomberg terminal has 30,000 functions, and “news” is consistently hit more than all but ten other functions, less than instant messaging, stock quotes and the “cancel” key, for example, but more than the rest:
Thirty thousand functions on the Bloomberg! Thirty thousand functions on the Bloomberg! Now, I’m going to ask you another question. Of these ten, which of these ten is the one that’s invented at Bloomberg, okay. It’s not a commodity. Now, we just walked through this. Message. Everybody’s got it. [Stock] quote everybody’s got it. Equity. Everybody’s got it. The only thing in the top ten most used functions that was invented at Bloomberg is news. And guess what? It gets hit every day And so all these other functions are there for everybody to use, so when someone says, you know, it’s just the machine and it enhances the machine, very true! It sure enhances the machine. It enhances the machine so much that it’s one of the top ten most used functions on the Bloomberg and there are 30,000 of them.
“Let me show you something,” he says to me, then tells Czelusniak: “Type BNAW, GO.” On a screen flashes the Bloomberg page with the awards Bloomberg has won.
We’re not a news organization. Hello? We’ve been winning awards since 1993. The only award we haven’t won is the Pulitzer Prize. We were a finalist, but we haven’t won it. But we’ve won everything else. But we’ve been winning them since 1992. So, our peers in the profession—people like you, they make those decisions, not me. Every year, we show up and say, “here’s what we did,” and every year we win the Polk Award, we win the Loeb Award, We win the National Press Foundation Award. We win British Journalist of the Year Award. Every category The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are in, we’ve won, too.
(Bloomberg won a single Polk, in 2005, for a twelve-part series called “Big Pharma’s Shameful Secrets,”on improper drug-testing practices and regulatory laxity, by David Evans, Michael Smith, and Liz Willen.)
And another thing, he says. What about the people who work here?
And look who’s here. If we’re not a news organization, would you tell me who Al Hunt is? Would you tell me who Rich Jaroslovsky is? Will you tell me who Phil Kuntz is? Those are three people from The Wall Street Journal. Would you tell me who Janet Guyon is? Another person from The Wall Street Journal.
Me: “I didn’t know…”
How about Amanda Bennett?
Me: “Those are all sort of relatively recent hires [I have no idea what point I was trying to make here] ”
No, we can go back a long time.
Me: “No no no ”
How about [the late Monroe] Bud Karmin won a Pulitzer prize in 1968 [for work in 1967] for The Wall Street Journal, joined Bloomberg in  , okay?
Me: No no I was just making a point that you
No! I’m just saying Ron Henkoff joined us in 1998 when was the economics editor for Newsweek International, then he went to to the board of editors at Fortune magazine [An Audit correction: An earlier version misquoted Winkler as saying that Henkoff had worked at Forbes; in fact, Winkler had it right; it was Fortune], then came to Bloomberg in 1998—last I checked that was ten years ago. That’s not a relatively recent hire as the editor of our magazine. Laura Colby came with him—half his staff.
Me [helpfully]: Charlie Babcock?
Charlie Babcock! Washington Post! I mean, when you look at who joined Bloomberg over the years, and I don’t mean just in the past three years, but I mean the past ten years or the past fifteen years. Felix Kessler! Joined Bloomberg in 1992. Who is Felix Kessler? He was the Paris bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was a writer for Fortune magazine. Joined us in 1992! Is that good enough?
I sink deeper and deeper into my chair. I detect an absence of nitrogen in the air. Or maybe it’s a surplus.