Bloomberg editor denies spiking China stories at Medill event

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By Charles Rollet

Bloomberg News editor–in-chief Matthew Winkler denied cancelling an investigative story about Chinese billionaires with government ties at a Medill lecture on Thursday.

“As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s absolutely false that we postpone reporting due to external or internal pressure,” Winkler said when asked by THE CHRONICLE whether he made a phone call spiking the article following pressure from the Chinese government. “The reporting that was presented to me and top editors just was not ready for publication.”

When asked precisely when the story would be published, Winkler said “when it’s ready.”

Winkler also declined to comment on the fate of journalist Mike Forsyth, who was put on leave from Bloomberg News for leaking the story of the spiking. Forsyth has since been fired from Bloomberg.

In response to a question about whether Western media outlets should self-censor to stay in business in countries like China, Winkler switched the subject to the importance of data journalism. “This is the most important thing,” he said. “If we have the data, all of the data, we can go pretty much anywhere because what we’re about is transparency.”

During his lecture, titled “Truth in the Age of Twitter,” Winkler mostly discussed his book “The Bloomberg Way” and the rise of Bloomberg News to the top of the world’s media companies. He promoted the company’s “Five F-words” strategy: getting in the first word, the fastest word, the “future word,” the factual word, and the final word.

At the beginning of the lecture, Winkler also touted Bloomberg’s commitment to investigative journalism, bringing up a conversation he had with the company’s founder Michael Bloomberg some years ago.

Winkler said he asked “Mike” what would happen if a big company threatened to remove all its Bloomberg terminals due to a sensitive article about its chairman “absconding to Rio.”

“And I said to Mike ‘well, what would you do,’and he didn’t bat an eye. He just smiled and he said, ‘my lawyers will love you,'” said Winkler.

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