Pearlstine, Winkler says, it more than just a dot on this upward graph of talent. He says it was “the dream, the wish, the fantasy” to hire his old mentor, who had hired Winkler to the Journal back in the 1980s. The hiring is a signal that:
Bloomberg is pretty serious about being serious about news. Not that it wasn’t, but if you want an iconic moment in journalism, here’s one for you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re not familiar with Bloomberg, here’s an iconic moment. We’re showin’ ya’, we’re not tellin’ ya’. He just walked in the door, okay? What else do you need to know? Do any of these [competing] journalistic platforms right now have somebody who’s done all the things that Norman Pearlstine has done in news?
Me: “You mean, elsewhere around ”
Outside of Bloomberg, you can count on your hand the people who have done all the things that Norm Pearlstine has done. There are not too many people like him—if any. And all I’m saying is that if people want to understand what I mean when I’m saying by the comment “influence and stature,” here’s an example: we’re serious. We were serious yesterday. We were serious ten years ago. But ya know what? We’re never gonna stop being serious. We’re just going to keep pushing. This isn’t the end. This is the end of the beginning, to paraphrase Winston Churchill.
Me: What’s Pearlstine going to do?
He’s not here yet. He’ll be here June 2, so on June 3 we’ll have some idea of what he’s going to do, and June 4 and June 5, and so on. Suffice it to say, what I envision is the day-to-day operations of Bloomberg News isn’t materially going to change from today, a month from now—it’s going to be as it has. I’m going to continue to do many of the things if not all of the things that I’m doing, which is to make sure every single subject we are reporting on that we are as good as we can possibility be. That we’re doing the best, and best is always yet to come. That’s my job.
I think I can benefit enormously from having someone like Norm looking over everything that I do and everything we do and saying, “You know, have you tried this, have you thought of that, maybe you want to try it this way. Maybe you want to think about doing this way.”
For me, I love to have people who are challenging me everyday. Who are you really thinking about all the things that Bloomberg readers, viewers, listeners, need to get—want to get everyday. Are you thinking about that? That’s my job. And to have someone like Norm who’s been there, done that in so many ways and is so knowledgeable, so networked, and skilled in understanding stories and understanding news judgment, this is a gift.
If he didn’t exist I’d want to invent him.
But, wait, I’m thinking: All those names and awards are fine, but what about the great issues of the day: executive compensation, tainted imports and regulatory laxity, predatory lending, middle-class income stagnation, shifts in the consumer credit industry— any one of a number of items? An argument can at least be made that The New York Times, with one-twentieth the staff, has contributed far more to the public’s understanding of any of those.
Me: “[The Times’s] impact on the public discussion is quite profound given the fact that it has 100 people.”
Well, wait a second. But you’re looking at The New York Times as a newspaper published in New York, whose circulation is mostly to the New York region, isn’t that right?
Me: “I suppose so.”
Whereas Bloomberg is all over the world. And so when you talk about weight, you know people in Indonesia are not reading The New York Times every day. That’s not the first read. A lot of people in Indonesia are reading Bloomberg their first read every day. A lot of people in New Zealand are reading Bloomberg as their first read everyday. In Australia. In Germany. In France. In Belgium. In Holland. In Italy, okay? In the UK. In Canada. In Brazil, where I was last night, Bloomberg is the first read. So when you talk about weight, let’s go global, and let’s starting comparing Bloomberg to all these other platforms in a global context. And they’re not even in the game.