bloombergpicThe business journalism organization addresses the challenges of covering business in a foreign locale. 

By Joe Martin

Bloomberg news recently decided to expand its operations in South America, specifically Brazil. In 2010 it became a mission for Bloomberg to develop a repertoire of reporters who could speak both Portuguese and English, as well as write in both languages.

A lack of American journalists who are able to communicate in Portuguese has resulted in Bloomberg hiring a significant number of Brazilian nationals to work for the news organization, covering the BOLSA  and other financial news in the country.

“It makes a big difference if you’re covering the country from the country,” said Adriana Lyons, the
managing editor of Bloomberg’s Brazil bureau.

“We are like the United States, we are a huge country. But to cover business here you need to speak Portuguese,” said Cristiane Lucchesi, a senior reporter for Bloomberg. “There is a big internal market.”

While a majority of Bloomberg’s customers speak English and are centralized mainly in America,
increasingly as Brazil becomes a larger player in the world economic spectrum, there is a need for a team dedicated to covering the Brazilian markets.

In Brazil, there are roughly 4,500 Bloomberg terminals and around 40 Bloomberg reporters, said Lyons, and it’s still growing. As Brazil becomes more of an international player in the natural resources markets, as well as establishing itself as a regional power, Bloomberg needs more people who are bilingual.

The major hitch in the plan for Bloomberg is that there are very few journalism students in the United States learning Portuguese. And while a lot of Brazilian businessmen speak English on some level, they are not entirely comfortable speaking English during meetings or press conferences, for fear of gaffes and embarrassment.

In any language, Bloomberg’s reputation is staked on accuracy and depth of information, regardless of the speed in which it is delivered. At times this may mean losing a scoop, but it is better than the potential consequence of errors.

“If you make a mistake, someone is going to lose money,” said Lyons.

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