Bloomberg News Killed Stories Critical of ChinaS

You can't really be a legitimate news organization if you're going to kill stories based on the political leanings of your owner. RT can't report honestly on the Kremlin, while Al-Jazeera can't freely critique the Qatari government. And now add Bloomberg News to the list of news outlets that kill stories to please institutions, in this case the Chinese government.

The New York Times reports that the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, Matthew Winkler, asked a group of reporters to kill a story because it would anger the Chinese government:

The investigative report they had been working on for the better part of a year, which detailed the hidden financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, would not be published.

But Winkler defended the decision by likening Bloomberg's self-censorship based on the rationale of those reporting inside Nazi-Germany. The thinking was, if they published the stories, they would be kicked out of China. By not publishing the stories, they could continue to not accurately report on China. Great decision!

A group of four Bloomberg reporters based in China, speaking anonymously to the New York Times, revealed that Winkler said he made his decision simply to keep reporters in China, not to preserve the company's (or its larger financial-services brother company) bottom line. Sales of Bloomberg financial-services consoles slowed in 2012, after Bloomberg published a series of articles critical of the wealth of China's ruling party. The connection between the reporting and the bottom line, to some Bloomberg journalists, is very clear.

Next month, Daniel L. Doctoroff, the chief executive of Bloomberg, is visiting China to promote its financial services division. A critical story published now would harm both his visit, and the business it serves to promote.

The article was on course for publication, right through final edits, before it was killed by senior editors based in New York. "They were adamant that the reasons for killing the story were editorial reasons, not political reasons," an employee told the New York Times.

Days later, another story was killed by editors at Bloomberg News, once again covering China's ruling class. This time, the editors claimed a veteran journalist didn't have enough documentary evidence.

The New York Times, by the way, has not been given new journalism visas for China in some time, starting around when it began publishing articles that exposed the wealth and connections of China's elite.