Bloomberg News Founder Says It’s Vital to Spot “Signals in the Noise” When Covering Markets

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Companies that invested in their future outperformed, but reporters missed that "signal," said Winkler. Credit: Steven Strasser

Journalists who get closest to events as they are unfolding are the ones who can spot “the signal in the noise” and truly understand the behavior of markets, companies and governments, said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News and a vice chair of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

“If you get those pieces right, you can pretty much cover everything,” said Winkler, speaking at an ICFJ event at the Findlay Galleries in Palm Beach on Feb. 26.

Winkler, the founder of Bloomberg News and a longtime supporter of ICFJ, highlighted several important economic and financial “signals” that he said mainstream news coverage has missed.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, for example, candidates emphasized a failing economy, and that was widely reflected in news coverage. But in fact, the U.S. was the only country in the world that had record gross domestic product after the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, he said.

“Now, that’s not what you heard or read at any time in 2016,” Winkler said. “That was as far from the narrative of news as you could get, and it was a basic fact.”

Winkler also highlighted a “signal” he sees across high-performing companies: an emphasis on investing heavily in their own growth, rather than on quarterly returns. He pointed to companies like Amazon and Tesla that have poured profits back into the company and today outperform the competition. 

Now a columnist, Winkler is known for the “Bloomberg Way,” a set of guidelines for editors and reporters that he championed and later turned into a book. He said he abides by a fundamental journalistic principle. “When I want to speak truth to power,” Winkler said, ”for me, that’s all about following the money.”

Watch his talk on Facebook Live.

ICFJ thanks the host of the event, Jimmy Borynack of Findlay Galleries, and ICFJ Vice Chair Pam Howard, for their support.

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