The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Ronald Henkoff, executive editor of Bloomberg Markets, a financial monthly magazine for and about professional investors, stopped off in Tokyo in June during a trip around Asia.

Henkoff, who joined Bloomberg News in 1998 and became editor of Bloomberg Markets a year later, has guided the magazine—which has a global distribution of 375,000 subscribers—to more than 150 journalism awards.

In 2006, Henkoff himself won one of the most illustrious prizes in business journalism: the Minard Editor Award—given annually by the Gerald R. Loeb Awards to an outstanding editor. For more on Bloomberg Markets, the economic atmosphere in Asian countries, including Japan, and the latest trends in journalism in the digital age, The Journal sat down with Henkoff for a candid conversation.

The July/August issue of Bloomberg Markets focuses on rivalries.

The July/August issue of Bloomberg Markets focuses on rivalries.

What is Bloomberg Markets magazine?
It is a global magazine. Around the world, we have some 375,000 readers, most of whom are subscribers through the Bloomberg Terminal for finance professionals. We have around 41,500 subscribers who aren’t Bloomberg Terminal users. And, if you look at the totality of our subscriber base, we have about 72,000 in Asia–Pacific.

What brings you to Japan?
Once a year I come to Asia, where I visit major companies and economies. What brought me to Japan this time is this sense that there is a change in the dynamics of the economy, and Abenomics is beginning to take effect. You see it in the positive behavior and attitude of investors.

What’s your take on Abenomics and womenomics the latter being a term coined by Kathy Matsui of Goldman Sachs Japan?
It’s interesting that you should bring up Kathy Matsui. Every year, we compile a list of the 50 Most Influential leaders and innovators. In 2014, we not only included her on the list, but we mentioned her on the cover.

In terms of womenomics, if you look at the demographics situation in Japan, I can see why the prime minister wants to fully utilize the talent of the country, including women. And it’s something that other economies around the world are recognizing—that, especially as the population ages, you should use all your resources.

Where does Bloomberg Markets fit into the Bloomberg family of brands?
Bloomberg is a financial information and communications company. And it delivers information to people who, by and large, are involved in markets, which I’ll get to in a minute. It’s not an accident that our magazine is named Bloomberg Markets.

There’s a real-time news service, called Bloomberg News. Everyone who has a Bloomberg Terminal receives Bloomberg News. If you take the whole of Bloomberg News, and Bloomberg media assets around the world, it amounts to 2,400 journalists, 150 bureaus, and 73 countries.

Bloomberg Markets is the most closely allied with the Bloomberg Terminal readership—everybody who has a terminal gets the magazine, plus we have another 40,000 or so subscribers.

The other Bloomberg Media properties, notably the other magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek . . . is a weekly. It is more in the flow of the news, its readership is more concentrated in the United States, and it is also a global brand—Businessweek is more broadly targeted to business, whereas we focus more on finance.

Another Bloomberg Media product is, of course, the websites via Bloomberg News. But all our Bloomberg Markets stories actually run on the Bloomberg Terminal and on the websites as well. Then there is Bloomberg Television; and there’s Bloomberg Radio. Bloomberg also publishes a quarterly luxury lifestyle magazine called Bloomberg Pursuits.

What stories will be big in Asia in the coming months?
If you look at Asia broadly, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community (AEC), [a body that seeks regional economic integration], is currently one.

There is also tremendous interest in China. Its economy has seen incredible growth, and is now going through a calculated slowdown or rebalancing. It’s just a question of how smooth or rocky that transition will be.

Then there is [the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP)], which is another step in the direction toward more open trade. That is something we are watching; it looked a little touch-and-go for a while, but now it looks like it will happen. TPP is very important to Japan.

The other story in Asia, which we touched on, is . . . Abenomics. If you look at what’s happening in the Japanese stock market, you know it had this tremendous run up and then it fell, and now it seems to be turning the corner; it looks like it’s poised for growth again.

So I think there is a lot of global investor interest in Japan and I think there is a real interest among our readers in getting an in-depth explanation and analysis as to what’s going on.

What can you tell us about the editorial evolution of Bloomberg Markets?
The magazine started in 1992, with the idea that there was this machine called the Bloomberg Terminal that had all this wonderful information and all these fantastic analytical capabilities.

It was then called Bloomberg Magazine, and it literally put pictures of the Bloomberg Terminal on the front cover. It called itself a magazine, but it was really kind of a user’s manual.

By the time I came to Bloomberg . . . and became editor of the magazine, in 1999, it had already evolved into something a little bit more than a user’s manual. But it had an eclectic and unpredictable mix of stories.

What we’ve set about doing is to recognize this great resource I was telling you about, which is 2,400 staff journalists—who are experts on particular beats around the world. We made the decision to put that kind of journalism into this magazine.

As we’ve evolved, we’ve also recognized that, as the printed word moves forward, the way you display it also moves forward.

Graphics and infographics have always been important, but as we’ve gone along, I think they’ve become livelier, more informative, and we’ve tried to do the same with photography, and with illustrations.

If you look at [the July/August] issue, I mean, this is just a very creative use of art, and there are a couple of things in particular in here that are new for us, including a video game with a great online version.

We call it “Krugman Battles the Austerians.” This is Paul Krugman [a Nobel Prize-winning economist]. There’s a manga-style graphic story in there, too.

Everything we do is based on reporting. We’re not spinning stories. We go out; we find out what’s happening; we do reporting. At the same time, we can present it in new and innovative ways. And the Krugman story has been a big hit, by the way.

Can you say something about print journalism in the digital age?

Bloomberg is animating stories online, including this one resembling a video game.

Bloomberg is animating stories online, including this one resembling a video game.

The important thing is to give people information—that’s useful, engaging, entertaining—and the way you deliver that to them can differ. What we do is long-form journalism. Print is very suited to that.

[But] it’s not the only way you can deliver [content]. We also have an app for the iPad edition, and we have partnered with Zinio [a multi-platform distribution service for digital magazines], where you can get an online version of Bloomberg Markets on any devices, including cell phones.

As with the Krugman story, increasingly what we’re able to do is online versions of stories that are more dynamic.

What we’ve set about doing is to recognize this great resource . . . which is 2,400 staff journalists