the audit

All the Bloomberg News that’s Fit to Print

Bloomberg News is apparently evaluating its editors, in part, on how their stories play in the New York Times.
August 8, 2006

Most news writers hoping for a promotion strive to keep their editors happy. But at Bloomberg News ambitious go-getters would be well advised to forget the editors across the hall and focus instead on pleasing the editors across the city — specifically, those fussy gatekeepers over at the New York Times.

Witness a Bloomberg News “performance evaluation,” recently obtained by the Columbia Journalism Review.

The evaluation begins with a decidedly in-house emphasis. “1. Describe your main responsibilities. 2. Critique your performance for the past review period … Where applicable, show how you have met the goals set for you, e.g…fulfilling ‘the five Fs’ as defined in THE BLOOMBERG WAY…” (Capital letters THEIRS.)

But shortly after sizing up their employees’ fidelity to the “five Fs” (that’s Bloomberg newspeak for first word, future word, factual word, fastest word, final word), Bloomberg management shift attention to the pages of the Gray Lady. The sixth and final criteria for evaluation (“For Team Leaders Only”):

“Please provide data on your five-week performance in the New York Times for the past year.”

According to its Web site, Bloomberg News serves up stories to more than 350 newspapers and magazines in some 50 different countries across the globe. So why the Times obsession?

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Spokespersons for Bloomberg News declined to comment on the policy.

One factor, however, might be the considerable size of the news hole at the Times business page, and the nature of the competition therein. Whereas some business publications rely primarily on a single business wire — think the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones — editors at the Times pick and choose from a variety of wire services.

As a result, the pages of the Times serve as a rich battleground of sorts where the Bloomberg market-jockies can test their best work in head-to-head competition against the likes of Dow Jones.

So how are the Bloomies doing?

According to a recent search on Lexis-Nexis, over the previous month, the Times had published 9 pieces by Dow Jones … and 100 by Bloomberg News.

To paraphrase THE BLOOMBERG WAY: F yeah!

Somebody give that newsroom a promotion.

Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.