The brand of ‘Bloomberg’ has undergone a massive change in the minds of Indian readers. For years, Bloomberg has been synonymous with trusted and insightful journalism in media, business, and philanthropy. Today in India however, the Bloomberg brand in its association with The Quint has become a propaganda-publishing house. Pushing a single political narrative, BloombergQuint has often sacrificed factual reporting at the altar of vested interests. In contrast, Bloomberg’s conduct in China is another story altogether.
China which has been notorious in suppressing media into following botched up reporting policies has been successful in bringing corporate giants like Google and others on their knees. Bloomberg’s journey in China has been also marred with controversies. While in India, BloombergQuint continues to publish a barrage of factless propaganda funded by an alleged tax evader Raghav Bahl, the owner of Quint which is Bloomberg’s India partner, Bloomberg is said to curb articles that may anger China, after facing pressure from the Chinese establishment.
In 2012, Bloomberg China published a series of articles about the personal assets of the leaders in the Chinese Government, including Xi Jinping. Chinese officials said that news coverage on the wealth and personal lives of Chinese leaders crosses a red line. Mr. Winkler (Chief Editor) had reportedly said ‘If we run the story, we’ll be kicked out of China.’ After which, Bloomberg News halted the publication of 2 articles in China. Since then, Bloomberg’s operations in China have suffered. New journalists have been denied residency and sales of its financial terminals to state enterprises have slowed.
According to a report by Council on Foreign Relations, “China’s constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but the opacity of Chinese media regulations allows authorities to crack down on news stories by claiming that they expose state secrets and endanger the country. The definition of state secrets in China remains vague, facilitating censorship of any information that authorities deem harmful to their political or economic interests.” CFR Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. Economy says the Chinese government is in a state of “schizophrenia” about media policy as it “goes back and forth, testing the line, knowing they need press freedom and the information it provides, but worried about opening the door to the type of freedoms that could lead to the regime’s downfall.”
In 2016, Freedom House ranked China last for the second consecutive year out of sixty-five countries that represent 88 percent of the world’s internet users. The France-based watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranked China 176 out of 180 countries in its 2016 worldwide index of press freedom.
However, the contrast between Bloomberg’s behavior in India and China raise disturbing questions on its professional conduct. A number of incidents indicate towards Bloomberg’s India partner Quint’s irresponsible journalism. In one country, Bloomberg bends to ‘Media censorship’ but in another, it promotes fake and misleading news in the name of ‘media freedom.’ Quint’s agenda driven attempts have also been hurting Bloomberg’s image as a trusted name in Business News. Op –ed’s pushing a negative narrative about Indian economy by defying basic statistical data and general knowledge about India’s global image as the fastest growing large economy are part of Bloomberg’s operations with the Quint.
The lack of hard-hitting journalism in China, where it is actually warranted, can cast Bloomberg in an unfavorable light when compared with the barrage of fake news and pure propaganda in its Indian operations. The irresponsible reporting, coupled with anti-American leanings of some stories, Bloomberg Quint can dent the prospects of the Bloomberg brand and name in America. Keeping in mind the investigations around Russia meddling in American media and news, Bloomberg would want to secure its image and be above suspicion of meddling in the affairs of another country via fake news. Abandoning critical courage where it is necessary only points towards Bloomberg’s bent up conduct when it comes to unbiased reporting.