Bloomberg Editor-In-Chief Matthew Winkler has a column up today at Bloomberg.com addressing the burgeoning “spying” scandal, in which it’s been revealed that some Bloomberg reporters used information gleaned from the Bloomberg Terminal (regarding client login times and help-desk chats) to aid in their reporting.
In his column, Winkler apologizes for the behaviour, but he also gives some background on why Bloomberg reporters had this data in the first place:
Now let’s also be clear what our reporters had access to. First, they could see a user’s login history and when a login was created. Second, they could see high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information. This is akin to being able to see how many times someone used Microsoft Word vs. Excel. And, finally, they could see information about help desk inquiries.
Why did reporters have access to this in the first place? The recent complaints go to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News. Since the 1990s, some reporters have used the terminal to obtain, as the Washington Post reported, “mundane” facts such as log-on information. There was good reason for this, as our reporters used to go to clients in the early days of the company and ask them what topics they wanted to see covered. Understanding how clients used the terminal was more important then. We still do that today, which is why we have feedback tabs on our news-related terminal functions. Equally important is our commitment to transparency, which is why “The Bloomberg Way” is a public document.