Bloomberg's Dubious Claim: Three Times Scoopier This YearS

Bloomberg retains a reputation as the most brutal and authoritarian of the news wires, so it's no wonder the company's internal memos could pass for North Korean propaganda. Scoop production increased threefold, the glorious regime just reported!

A Bloomberg source passed us an internal Q1 memo. (Click here to read the whole thing.) It says the news division beat all first-quarter targets and increased "its headline speed against the main real-time competition." We have no idea what that means; maybe ask a Scientologist.

We do get this part, though, where Bloomberg clearly brags about nearly tripling the number of stories broken in Q1 and getting double the number of "follows" in competing media:

"Competitors followed Bloomberg News stories more than 2,700 times —

more than twice as often as in all of 2008({NI FOLLOW }. The Wall

Street Journal
alone cited us 235 times. The New York Times mentioned

us 135 times. Reuters followed 520 times."



The 1,492 journalists at Bloomberg News broke more than 13,000

stories, almost three times the total for all of 2008. Our speed

increased, too: Bloomberg News beat its main real-time competitor on

more than 70 percent of all major stories, compared with 54 percent at

the beginning of the year."

The trouble with these stats: They're generated by the very Bloomberg staff who stand to earn kudos and bonuses off them, a major conflict of interests. The financial information company is growing more metrics conscious every quarter as it strives toward a long-term goal of $10 billion in annual revenue, our tipster tells us, increasing the incentive to flag stories with internal "FIRST" and "FOLLOW" tags.

Our tipster believes the tags are applied more generously than last year, and Bloomberg's stats bear this out: To triple "FIRSTs," reporters either worked three times harder this year — doubtful, given how intensely competitive Bloomberg's culture has always been — or the tag is being applied more liberally.

But editors who fudged the numbers may have burned themselves: Bloomberg, our tipster claims, will use Q1 2009 as a benchmark for future performance, rather than a period from 2008, as employees previously believed. If that's true, the suspicious Q1 metrics will set a very difficult performance bar going forward.

We've asked Bloomberg for comment and will update the post when we hear back. UPDATE: Bloomberg's response, in full: "The report is accurate." Thank you, comrades.

[Full Memo]

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