Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arising financial journalism in the era of internet

While many news organisations are facing budget constraints in the era of the internet, the financial information service Bloomberg is going from strength to strength, celebrating its 50,000th news terminal in Asia.

Bloomberg, which sells primary financial news via for subscribers, rents about 300,000 terminals worldwide at a cost of about US $2,000, or HK$ 15,579, a month, said Ben Richardson, an editor at Bloomberg’s Hong Kong bureau in charge of government and political coverage.

The company has increased the fee every two years or so and has no worries about profitability.

He said stories about there being no money in traditional journalism any longer are not true. “There is huge money,” he said. Bloomberg and Reuters have proved that it could be made from providing people with news accurately and quickly.

He said the majority of their readers were on the sell side, that is, traders and stockbrokers who usually knew their financial information and just needed to pick out the figure they needed. He said about 40 per cent of their customers only looked at the headlines.

He said a headline alone will move markets, and people will make money from that information.

Reuters and Bloomberg spend millions of dollars each year getting the news out faster by upgrading the speed of connections.

Mr Richardson said when he worked for Reuters more than ten years ago he had 10 minutes to get the first headline. Then when he joined Bloomberg in 2001 they cut their time to 7 minutes, and it’s now down to 2 minutes. “Soon we’ll be publishing the news before it’s happened,” he joked. “The more prepared you are, the faster you can get the news.”

If financial journalists cannot provide information quickly and accurately, their customers would lose money in the market, and would no longer use their service, he said.

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