Bloomberg Media expands to Asia as part of new focused path

Bloomberg Media is continuing to expand its global reach with the launch of its first dedicated website for Asia.

The site follows a European site launched earlier this year and comes as the company has set new priorities that include concentrating on its core of global business and finance reporting; and more collaboration across its sprawling reporting staff. Asia figured big in Bloomberg’s priorities that were recently laid out by its powerful new editor in chief John Micklethwait.

Micklethwait mentioned Asia multiple times in the memo setting forth the company blueprint, writing that Bloomberg was too focused on established markets and not enough on emerging ones including Asia. “We are far more parochial than the capitalism we are trying to chronicle,” he wrote.

The Asia site will be English-language and run by a Hong Kong-based team of five new hires led by Anjali Kapoor, formerly of Canada’s Globe and Mail, and supported by Bloomberg’s 500 reporters across 24 cities in Asia. That’s a lot for one site to cover, but the company said that given the interconnectedness of the region’s economy, a pan-Asian approach made sense.

The Asia operation also will reflect recent staff streamlining efforts: After Mike Bloomberg returned to run the company he founded, separate news staffs for the terminal and Bloomberg’s media arm were merged.

Bloomberg Media is part of the much larger Bloomberg LP, which makes its money from the sale of financial news and data delivered on its terminal service. In that sense, the Asia expansion serves two purposes: that of selling advertising to marketers wanting to reach its financial audience, and ultimately, serving the mother ship by helping it sell terminal subscriptions in the region as sales have slowed in recent years in its home market of the U.S.

“Asia is obviously the key growth market for the future, both for Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Media, too,” Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith told Digiday.

With its explosive growth and potential for new audiences, Western media outlets can hardly avoid China. Doing independent journalism in China has proved tricky for Western media, though. Bloomberg’s own China coverage faced scrutiny a year ago when it reportedly quashed investigative stories about higher-ups in China, lest they hurt Bloomberg’s ability to sell terminals in that country.

In the release announcing the Asia launch, Bloomberg emphasized a focus on fast-moving business and financial news reporting for its growing audience of business and finance professionals there.

Micklethwait has consolidated power since arriving, leading to murmurs about what it meant for Smith’s future there. Smith declined to comment directly on the gossip, but in describing the Asia mission, Smith referred repeatedly to Micklethwait: “The business focus is to cover the stories and trends and reveal insights that will help business and financial executives do their jobs better. As John has written in his memo, that includes a major focus on the financial markets but also on business, technology, economics, what John has called power.”

Asked how Bloomberg will balance those tensions between its editorial and business-side interests, Smith said the company has a “phenomenal track record of covering business and financial news. The quality of our journalism and independence of it is there for everybody to see. We don’t pull our punches. We do great journalism, and it’s the same in Asia as the rest of the world.”

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