Media Viewpoint: Staying relevant on the cover of a magazine
The recent momentous events in Egypt, Japan and Pakistan show us again how rapidly information spreads worldwide. Anyone with a mobile phone and Twitter account can become a self-styled “journalist”. What role can a monthly magazine play in this kind of environment? At Bloomberg Markets, a global financial magazine published by Bloomberg News, we ask ourselves this question every day.
No magazine can compete with the electronic media when it comes to conveying the immediacy of Egyptians gathering in a public square to topple an autocrat, or the drama of the President of the United States telling the world late on a Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Nor can a monthly magazine adequately capture the human drama of the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.
But what a monthly magazine can – and must do – is provide context, depth, insight and perspective. In the electronic cacophony of the web, false information can travel as fast as true information. With so much noise in the air, the need for the kind of reporting magazines can deliver has never been greater.
How does a magazine make its voice heard? Here are some basic principles.
Credibility: At Bloomberg Markets, we believe in transparency. We want our readers to know exactly where our information comes from and that our sources are credible. We avoid anonymous sources, and we don’t use unattributed quotes. We are a reporting-driven magazine; we draw on the unparalleled resources of Bloomberg News, which has 2,300 journalists in 146 offices in 72 countries. (Bloomberg has 35 news bureaus in the Asia Pacific region, including 60 journalists in Singapore. Bloomberg Markets has 71,000 readers in the region.)
Fairness: We give people, companies and institutions an opportunity to comment on what we are reporting about them. We will sometimes write stories in which a major character has declined to comment. Even in those cases, we make every effort to let the person know what we are planning to say.
Globality: As information spills across borders, so does politics, ideology, technology, art, literature, music and sport. Few fields are as global as the ones we cover with business, economics and finance. Readers want to know how what happens in one part of the world will affect them where they live. While we are a US-based publication, the majority of our readers reside outside North America, and we send the magazine to 155 countries.
Originality: In a world glutted with information – and misinformation – readers want content that is fresh, original and accurate. Give them these things – even amid the onrush of sounds, words and images that speed through the ether – and they will pay attention.
Accountability with advertisers: Advertisers will also pay attention, especially if they know readers value editorial. When you are selling a powerful, high-worth financial audience to accompany the editorial, it’s critical advertisers know exactly what and whom they will be reaching. Here is where being a semi-controlled circulation has the advantage, because readers have to opt-in to receive the magazine. More than 95% of Bloomberg terminal users – the global markets movers who use the service on average nine hours a day – opt-in for their Bloomberg Markets subscriptions.
Ronald Henkoff – editor of Bloomberg Markets magazine