Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that Bloomberg is reportedly writing critical stories about its competition, and not divulging that fact to its readers (Bloomberg is starting up a for-profit education venture that few people know about, at the same time that Bloomberg is writing articles highly critical of their future competitors in the for-profit education sector). But as I said, let’s put that potentially huge, undivulged, conflict of interest aside. Now what if Bloomberg’s reporter, writing critical stories about the future competition, told its sources what specific critical quotes it wanted for the story – literally telling the source what to say?
It is time for another blogger ethics panel?
The future competitor, the University of Phoenix (run by the Apollo Group), forwarded me one of the emails from Bloomberg’s reporter:
From: DAN GOLDEN, BLOOMBERG/ NEWSROOM
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:11 AM
To: Mark De Fusco
Subject: RE: interview request/dan golden/bloomberg
How are you? My story’s going through editing and my editor had a couple questions. One is — I identified you as an education investment banker — and he was wondering what deals you’ve done, and if perhaps there’s one that’s particularly noteworthy that we might mention.
Also, the theme of my story seems to be along the lines of — apollo has done well as a stock and had rapid growth, but now it’s facing some potential vulnerabilities — a less sympathetic federal administration, plus possibly the limits to its growth (meaning that its shift to axia college has led to some problems because its growth has come with low-income, less prepared students who are more likely to drop out). I’d love it if you could come up something on the record that might reflect some of this — perhaps along the lines of — Phoenix’s original model was magic because XXX — but the current model has some of the same flaws that have dogged other for-profit schools — X and Y.
Perhaps if you have some time this afternoon we could discuss?