Media Q&A: Bloomberg News (Singapore Bureau)
“What is a typical day like at Bloomberg News?” one might ask. According to Singapore Bureau Chief Stephanie Phang, every day is different. The team of editors, reporters and analysts she oversees have their hands full with covering a broad spectrum of news – energy and commodities, economy, government, stocks, bonds, FX, banks, real estate, treasuries and the regional bond markets. They also conduct interviews and write insightful analyses on financial markets.
As bureau chief, Phang is responsible for operations within the regional hub, overseeing more than 70 staff members and ensuring that they are reporting the Singapore story in a meaningful way that is valuable to their readers.
“I make sure we are all over the breaking news, help to headline and edit stories, and support reporters and editors to produce cool enterprise. When needed, I provide the check and balance on stories that we produce here on Singapore. I also identify talent, nurture and retain them, and try to make sure the people in the bureau are happy and well,” she added.
Founded in 1990, Bloomberg News grew rapidly over the years from a team of six to 2,600 journalists and analysts in over 120 countries. The industry leader in financial news has evolved based on the needs of its readers by broadening the way it delivers news both on the Bloomberg terminal and the website, and through platforms such as magazines, TV and radio.
Phang said, “We have the Gadfly product that provides fast commentary, live blogs for major events and Daybreak, which is basically your morning brief.” She continued, “It [Daybreak] gives you all the news you need to know in a very concise and easy to digest format. Our clients can read it during their morning commute and come into the office ready for the day.”
She elaborated, “Readers’ habits are changing. Nowadays, people get their news on Twitter, Facebook and other different social media apps. Therefore, they’re used to consuming news in different ways. To match the evolving needs of our readers, we have mobile alerts, Twitter and an Asia-specific website tailored to the Asian audience.”
While Bloomberg News has become a global brand, there is still a misconception of it being a news wire. According to Phang, they see themselves as “an international media organisation rather than a news wire per se because we [they] are not limited by the way our [their] news is distributed.”
“We don’t have people who are just responsible for writing stories and headlines that are then packaged and sold to other news organisations. That’s only a small part of what we do, as we’re a multi-platform news organisation. Everyone who works for Bloomberg News works for all the different platforms within the company – print, TV, radio, magazines and newsletters,” she said.
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How has the rise of digital media affected Bloomberg News?
It has provided an additional resource for reporting and disseminating news. In terms of reporting the news, there will be places when something blows up suddenly but we don’t have reporters in every single town worldwide. The first you might hear of it might be on social media, and that tips us off as well as provides another side to an issue that we might not have been aware of through official channels.
How has the Singapore media landscape evolved?
I think the news cycle turnaround has become a lot faster. Even newspapers have websites. Instead of waiting for the news to come out in the next day’s edition, the news comes out instantly on their websites. With technology, the way we receive and disseminate information is a lot faster.
Does long-form journalism have a place in the mobile-centric world?
Yes. News is complex. You can’t tell everything in 140 characters. I think everyone wants different lengths at different times. If you’re a trader, you want something that’s short and quick. However, if you’re an investor or CEO, you want the context and history, so you might go for our longer publications like Businessweek, which comes out weekly and is a nice weekend read, or Markets.
The rise of various websites, blogs and social media platforms has allowed for many discussions to take place, resulting in the audience getting distracted by meaningless information and easily believing something they read without fact checking. That being the case, journalism plays a crucial role in separating the noise from the signals. Has all the noise in this digital era created more miscommunication?
It certainly has created the potential for more miscommunication, but like all technology and communication tools, we as users need to make it work for us, and as people get more familiar with it and the technology evolves, we will all learn to be more discerning.
How can journalists identify which social media indicators are a useful and reliable barometer of public opinion on issues?
The way journalists do anything. Investigate, research, observe, and of course, keep an open mind.
Now that we have other ways such as blogs and social media to disseminate news, is the press release still relevant? Goldman Sachs, for example, announced its earnings last year on Twitter instead of distributing it via independent business wires.
I think everyone’s very used to press releases. That’s what people will look at by default. If you’re putting your announcement on Twitter instead of sending out a press release and can get that information out to everyone, that’s fine. Otherwise, the press release will catch those who are not watching for it.
There is a lot of noise on social media. Unless you’ve got someone staring at your website all day and refreshing it every second, people might miss that announcement, especially if it’s an unplanned or unscheduled one.
For press releases, the best ones are those that get to the point in a short and sweet manner in the headline. A good example would be a recent one from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which had the headline “MAS directs BSI Bank to shut down in Singapore”. It tells you what it is immediately in a very concise manner, which is perfect because a long headline will cause your message to be lost.
What should PR professionals take note of when pitching to Bloomberg News?
The six areas we focus on are business, finance, markets, economics, technology and power. Keep in mind that every story we write has to be relevant to our global readers – global investors, finance professionals, bankers and traders across different asset classes such as FX, equities and commodities. We write news that help inform people so they can make the right decisions about a particular asset class, country, market or economy.
There are a lot of stories that are pitched to us that might be more suitable for the local media to cover. An example of what we might care about, in terms of local breaking news, is a tanker collision in the straits. We might look at that from both a human interest angle, as well as how it will impact companies, government policy and even markets.
Although some pitches do not have immediate relevance to our readers, it doesn’t mean that there’s no news value. For example, you might not think that Singapore’s education policy is a Bloomberg story, but we did do a feature about how the Singapore government is trying to encourage parents to be less focused on university education because they’re realising that the job market and the needs of the economy are changing. This is something of interest to people who are looking at where the Singapore economy is heading, how government policy is changing and how that might affect companies that are looking to operate here or looking to hire people here. This becomes a Bloomberg story as it’s relevant to government policy and markets.
What does the future of Bloomberg News look like?
Bright. We’ve got very smart people running the organisation and we’ve got really smart reporters and editors here.
What spelling / grammar mistake irks you the most?
Compliment vs complement. Advice vs advise. Compared to and compared with. Most people don’t bother too much with it [the last one on compared to/compared with] so I’ll let it pass.
It also irks me when a press release gets the name of their company / executive or the title of the executive wrong.