Bloomberg News Co-Founder Matt Winkler

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Matt Winkler, the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, will speak to journalism students at Arizona State University about covering the business world in the digital age. Winkler will talk about business journalism and how he created Bloomberg News.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Bloomberg news is famous for its business coverage. Matt Winkler, the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, will speak to journalism students at Arizona state university tonight about covering the business world in the digital age. Here now is Matt Winkler. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.

MATT WINKLER: Thank you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: You helped build Bloomberg news from scratch. You've seen a lot over the last 25 years. How would you describe the state of the industry today?

MATT WINKLER: Well, it's more dynamic actually than it's ever been in my lifetime because everybody is confronting the same thing, how to get your business model to work. And that means it's changed all the time. And everybody's experimenting.

CHRISTINA ESTES: When it comes to online and all of the media outlets pushing and putting all of their coverage online, is that a good thing, bad thing, what sort of impact is that having when it comes to information as well as revenue?

MATT WINKLER: Well, here's the thing. We all have these tools at our disposal and that's how they should be viewed. So when we talk about being online, we're using tools. The thing that we must never forget is that in the news business it's all about accuracy above all else. And we're living in an era now where people can say anything and they do. And it's there forever. And it's not necessarily true. So you have a clash between misinformation and information and the best news providers are going to be able to figure out the difference.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Some critics say that online budgets are much smaller than a typical newspaper or a typical newsroom that puts on an actual show, because they rely heavily on advertising, they may be less critical when it comes to coverage. What do you think?

MATT WINKLER: It was always true in the news business that there's certainly, some element of entertainment. The risk today, though, is that news veers in the direction of entertainment more so than ever because it's in search of an audience and that means ratings and ratings don't necessarily have anything to do with accuracy.

CHRISTINA ESTES: So does that mean that's where we're heading? More entertainment?

MATT WINKLER: No, I think there are plenty of news organizations that recognize that the most valuable news is actionable news, the most valuable news is news that helps people make informed decisions. They're willing to pay for news as long as it helps them be smarter, faster, better. So the news organization that does that consistently actually is going to do fine.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Let's move to social media, specifically Facebook. The pew research center found about 30% of adults get their news from Facebook, and then an analytics company called simple reach found it can drive up to 25% of traffic to news outlets and people who work for Facebook who are sending you stories based on what you like or dislike or read. Talk a little bit about that. Is that a good thing?

MATT WINKLER: These are tools. And every news organization can take advantage of the tools to deliver more content in more different ways and that's not a bad thing. Again, one has to distinguish between the content itself and the tools delivering the content and they should never be confused.

CHRISTINA ESTES: There was an editor, I think it was from the Washington Post who described it as the unbundling with journalism and equated with the music industry when they would put out full albums, and now, you can buy a song, and now when it comes to journalism rather than buying the whole paper you're buying stories.

MATT WINKLER: And I would say that music will never go out of style and I would also say journalism at its best will never go out of style.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Well, I'm so happy to hear that. What do you think the lessons have been from the financial crisis and when it comes to how to cover that, business journalists, do they do a good job? Some critics say they didn't warn us.

MATT WINKLER: Some did. My own news organization I think was the first to introduce two words into the vocabulary: Toxic debt. And toxic debt arguably was the biggest cause of the unraveling of the financial system because we created all these instruments, financial instruments, that really were very destructive and we weren't the only ones to write about this. This is something that anyone could have done just looking around. I mean, after all the sub-prime mortgages were everywhere and they were being bundled into bigger debt obligations that were then rated triple a and they had no business being rated such. And that was the beginning of the end, unfortunately.

CHRISTINA ESTES: What are you most concerned about when it comes to reporting in the digital age?

MATT WINKLER: Well, as I said earlier what bothers me is that people can say anything because we're in an era of spontaneous expression delivered spontaneously forever. And many things get said and they're there forever and unless they are scrutinized and challenged, they enter the public record.

CHRISTINA ESTES: And what are you optimistic about?

MATT WINKLER: Well, we have the tools to mine data like never before and that enables us to verify, you know, Ronald Reagan famously said as present trust but verify. We can do more verification today with data than we ever did before.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Is there an outlet that you look at and think is doing it right that you're very proud of, other than Bloomberg of course, or you can tell us about Bloomberg. When you look at the digital age right now and what's happening?

MATT WINKLER: What I get excited about and we do it and lots of news organizations can do exactly the same thing, when I look at an issue or an entity, we can bring lots of data sets to the subject and the discussion and often that data when one connects the data points, literally, one can reveal that lots of assumptions that are being made every day aren't quite what people think they are and that's a really valuable service. And we couldn't do that as easily or with such depth as we can today.

CHRISTINA ESTES: It seems that when I see investigative reports and series and things like that a lot of times foundations and nonprofits are involved in supporting that effort. Is that something that you think we'll see going forward more or...

MATT WINKLER: There's nothing wrong with great news getting support from anywhere it can get it up to the point where it's compromised and that's just something you never want to see. But, you know, lots of nonprofits actually have an interest in making sure that the information that goes around and comes around is reliable and accurate. So I think that's a good trend, actually.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Matt Winkler, cofounder of Bloomberg news and former editor in chief, appreciate your time. Thanks for coming in.

MATT WINKLER: Thank you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Tuesday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll hear from a filmmaker behind a documentary about Arizona's groundwater management act. And it'll be time once again for our ever-popular look at science news with physicist Lawrence Krauss. That's at 5:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Christina Estes. Ted Simons is back tomorrow. Have a great night.

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