Democracy cannot survive without serious journalism – Bloomberg

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Founder of Bloomberg News Matthew Winkler says no democracy can survive without serious journalism.

And Winkler has advised African journalists to tell more stories using data as this is one way of ensuring factual reporting.

In an interview with News Diggers! Sunday, Winkler, who is in Zambia for the Africa Business Media Innovators Forum taking place in Livingstone from November 18 to 20, emphasised the need for good journalism.

Asked if he felt the future of journalism was at stake with the advancement of technology, Winkler said; “I definitely do believe that there is a great deal at stake and I do think that neither capitalist nor democracy can survive without serious and best journalism. So we are committed, like so many news organisations, I hope, to the best journalism and the models are increasingly turning on the subscription dependency and how important that is but it is also turning on increasingly on the greatest philanthropists in the world, many of whom are business people, like Michael Bloomberg, but he is by no means the only one, who are recognising increasingly that the most successful capitalism like the most successful democracy needs the most robust journalism.”

Winkler said he was optimistic that news consumers would support journalism via the subscription model once they decided that they needed access to proper content in order to make decisions.

“So it is not just Bloomberg, you can look at the Washington Post and how it has evolved and it has become a much more robust, much more global, much more dynamic, much more digital product in journalism than what it began as a broadsheet journalism broadsheet. It is by no means the only example, recently, Times Magazine for example was purchased by Marc Benioff, who is the founder of Salesforce.com and he is every bit committed to making Time, which as you know was the magazine in the 20th century, still a robust and vibrant media in the 21st century,” he said.

“But beyond that, there are all kinds of things that news organisations are doing to make it clear how important subscription is – just as consumers value their health care, just as consumers value the air that they breathe, the water that they breathe, the food that they consume, so are they going to be equally discriminating about the information they get. Because they need the truth to make the best decisions so I do think the value of subscription is going to increase and I do think that more and more people, millennials in particular are going to say as far as quality is concerned, I need to have serious journalism in my life if I am going to make the best decisions as I go forward. So the subscription model is going to become much more robust.”

And Winkler advised African journalists to tell more stories using data as this is one way of ensuring factual reporting.

“What we try to do at Bloomberg is to be able to as much as possible be able to compare one country to another country, one region to another region, one economy to another economy, in other words, it’s to bring as much relative value to our reporting as possible and the reason why that’s valuable is that it actually winds up engaging many of the people, many of the institutions which would otherwise not be so cooperative. Why is that? The reason is, at some point, the economy of Kenya will be compared to the economy of Nigeria, the economy of South Africa will be compared to Ethiopia and then these economies will be compared to other economies in South America or in Asia and the reason is exactly what Bloomberg does and that’s what I try to bring across when I am in these long term conversations with journalists in Africa about the importance of making these linkages, the importance of understanding that the more you could compare the data of one economy to another economy, the more you can compare the data of one company to another company the more you can compare the data of one market to another market, the more you are going to get,” he said.

“And data is another way of saying facts and facts are the elements of news and that’s what we need more in Africa, it is more facts and it is this relentless pursuit of data…I see no reason why this can’t be applied across the board to all media here and I would encourage that practice because I think it is the best practice.”

Meanhwile, Winkler explained why Bloomberg was investing in Africa.

“In some ways, in the 21st century, you could say at some point, it is about Africa, it is about Africa for the basic reason that the demography as you may know is that there are more young people in Africa than probably anywhere else. So this is where industry and global economics are going to converge and Bloomberg has now, for the fourth year, committed itself to, as much as it can, elevating the awareness, the importance of Africa especially in the context of business, financial economic reporting and bringing African countries into a global conversation about the most important issues which obviously include climate change, health care and the global economy…so what we are committed in doing is bringing together leaders in media from all over the world, in Africa, we have tried to be as diverse as we can in the composition of the people who make up the forum,” said Winkler.

“We have also tried to make the reach of the forum as broad as possible. We started in Johannesburg, next week we are in Kenya, last year we were in Accra and of course this year we are in Zambia in this beautiful place called Livingstone. The point is that we want to be expanding the competitiveness of African media, the ability of African media to reach into reporting that goes very deep in the economy, goes very deep in covering corporations, technology, global trade, all these issues which are at the centre of where power is and we ultimately obviously want to speak truth to power so here is hoping we are having a good impact.”

         

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