With thousands of clients across the world waiting for the most recent news on stock prices, and other financial news, Bloomberg realises that its survival and to a large extent those of its customers demands on its ability to produce the most accurate and timely financial news.
But with the explosion of social media and the accompanying information overload -many of them false and deliberately shared to mislead investors – Bloomberg’s clients pay premium for the news organisation to sift through the deluge of information and sources to provide them the most useful and correct financial news as they break.
During a tour to the Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York this month, the organisation told a team of foreign journalists that its secret for remaining in business was marshalling a combination of the most up-to-date technology and human judgement/knowledge.
“Here at Bloomberg we have a deadline every second because there is so many inputs, there is so many places where information can come from. We have to be constantly monitoring sources from around the world not only from the Internet but from social media. Bloomberg filters out the noise and just gives news. We have the saying that if it is not true, it is not news. We don’t print rumours. We do publish facts when stocks move as a result of a rumour, but we would not perpetuate unconfirm rumours,” said the Marty Schenker, Bloomberg News, Chief Content Officer.
“I do think one of the biggest challenges is verifying information so that investors so that investors can make sound decisions about where to put their money. And ultimately that is what the value of Bloomberg news is,” he said.
“We have reorganised our newsroom to make sure that all the information we get is useful to us,” he added.
The need to be first on the news was also reiterated by the news organisation’s senior executive editor for breaking new, Chris Collins.
“I think it is uniquely important to a company like Bloomberg we have thousands of terminal customers whose livelihood demands on us being first that means not necessarily being first on a scoop by a day or five minutes, it also means being first on every breaking news headline that might be market moving, even it is a split second that really matters to us,” he said.
Due to the myriad of news sources and the unending demand for updates and context, relying on the traditional method of newsgathering – where reporters either wait for a press release or chase after a news source before turning in a copy in the evening – has now become obsolete.
“A press release might drop in. They (reporters) would read the press release very quickly and then decide on what is important and then capture the information in some kind of flash headline or alert and from there write a quick story and that was literally how we used to handle a lot of the breaking news. And to some extent, you still need some of that. But, given the speed of the news cycle, given the volume of stuff that comes on a day to day basis you need more than just that,” Mr Collins said.
He explained that that Bloomberg News has invested in state-of-the-art technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, commonly known as AI, to help accelerate its newsgathering and dissemination processes.
“Some of the thing we have put in place to help with that process are technology related. You can have algorithms and computer systems that are designed to filter out some of the noise and allow the editors to focus on things that are coming in that are very important. You can have machine learning that is very helpful that can feed off the decisions the editor is making in the newsroom and learn from them and filter out some of the noise and focus on some of the stories that coming out that are important.
“One of the things you can do with technology and artificial intelligence is have the machine identify what are the key metrics from certain releases, remove them from a press release or extract them from a announcements and piece them together into some kind of initial story or initial alert. That allows us to be much quicker to our audience and enables us to publish the news much faster. Another thing that allows us to do is to allow the journalist more time to think of the takeaways from these stories and the immediate insights it can add to our audience.”
Gathering News On Social Media
Mr Collins said artificial learning and AI have been particularly useful in sifting through the news gathered from social media. He, however, admits that social media has also resulted in the proliferation of fake news and misinformation.
He said Bloomberg relies on the combination of AI and human intelligence to spot misleading information that thrive on social media.
“The advent of social media has really moved the goal post on how you stay competitive in terms of social media. One of the things we did early on is to strike a deal with Twitter where we actually have the data field of tweets from Twitter available on the Bloomberg terminal to our customers, so they can monitor tweets. The advantage of that for our newsroom is that we are able to build tools around it. What happens is that if you have a daily avalanche of social media posts coming in, you can use technology to filter out the ‘noise’, use machine learning to recognise which ones might be important and which ones might not be important and use it to narrow down the flow.
“What we have is a number of very experienced editors who will be looking at tweets when they come in from handles that we trust, from handles that we recognise and deciding whether or not they have news value and how we would be handling them.
“When it comes to misinformation and fake news, whatever you want to call it, the critical way to handle this is to use technology to a certain extent. You can use technology to filter some of the noise based on patterns. You can use technology in some cases geo-locate where the tweet was sent from. So you know if there is a photo on Twitter and the tweet says it comes from a certain place, there are certain way of identifying whether that’s true or not.
“You can also use metadata in photo to know when was the photo or video taken, was it one that was taken yesterday or a year ago and obviously helps with this whole misinformation and how to deal with it and figure out if it is accurate or not. But often, what you need are editors and reporters with terrific judgement, who can look at a tweet, look at an announcement and make a decision of whether it rings true and I think that is difficult to replicate with technology.
“There is a lot of technological thing we can do to fight misinformation but there is really no replacement for that kind of experience and judgement and really kind of home work that allows you to be able to tackle that kind of situation,” he said.
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