June 25, 2015

Competition among news services for financial news that can “move” markets has always been intense. It’s more so given new communications technologies, growth in the financial services sector and heightened rivalry among increasingly well-heeled media rivals.

Thursday’s Supreme Court decision underscored the bottom line journalistic and economic reality.

While most people focused on the policy and political ramifications, Bloomberg’s Washington bureau celebrated a first-in-class victory over competitors, including Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones and the Associated Press.

The first headline from reporter Greg Stohr on the decision upholding Obamacare tax subsidies came at 10:08:09 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

That’s 10:08:09 in case you missed it somehow.

That apparently was six seconds ahead of any competitor.

Once again, that’s six seconds.

For most normal human beings on the planet, even most journalists, that would be immaterial.

If you’re in the financial world, and paying around $20,000 a year for a Bloomberg terminal, that’s very relevant because you can trade on the information.

Indeed, some major health care stocks were up sharply (no surprise) at news that a key element of Obamacare would remain in place. They would have gone up regardless of who conveyed the information, but Bloomberg could do some boasting to peers and, more important, their customers.

It wasn’t really a “scoop,” or a piece of true enterprise, since the decision was passed out to one and all in the press room. There are rarely, if ever, any actual scoops at the Supreme Court, which is one of Washington’s more contemplative beats (the court relishes its image of institutional discretion). He just got out the gist quicker than others.

The tweets of congratulations were fast and furious from colleagues, be they other reporters or the firm’s spokesman.

In the case of Stohr, who covers the Supreme Court, he once told the Washington Post that he prepared 18 separate ledes, and even more headlines, for a 2013 court ruling on gay marriage.

That decision didn’t convulse financial markets in the way that Thursday’s naturally impacted them. But his modus operandi was the same.

So one, two, three, four, five, six cheers for Bloomberg and a bureau that could use some good news. It’s had rocky times the last few years and one of its own recently skewered the operation in a memo to bosses.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

More News

Back to News