The greatest collection of business newsmakers all year
by Chris Roush
Bloomberg Television anchor Erik Schatzker will be hosting “Market Makers” (10-12 pm ET) from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland all this week.
This is Schatzker’s fifth year covering the event for Bloomberg TV.
Schatzker regularly speaks with Wall Street’s most powerful executives and the top money managers from around the world. He’s interviewed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, private equity magnates Steve Schwarzman and David Rubenstein as well as fund managers Jim Chanos and George Soros.
Prior to joining Bloomberg Television in 2007, Schatzker led Bloomberg’s print coverage of financial services in the Americas. Schatzker began his career with the South Pacific Mail in Santiago, Chile. He served as a correspondent in Santiago and Toronto for Knight-Ridder Financial/Bridge News before starting with Bloomberg as a technology reporter in 1998.
Schatzker’s past positions with Bloomberg include Toronto bureau chief and senior writer for Bloomberg Markets magazine.
He spoke with Talking Biz News by email about covering the World Economic Forum. What follows is an edited transcript.
Does news actually occur at Davos?
Sure, news happens here. World leaders hold press conferences, and they typically generate some notable headlines. But unlike, say, the G20, the WEF isn’t a summit; there’s no mandate to produce solutions to the world’s problems, only to spur discussion and exchange ideas. As a result, the most interesting news often comes out of interviews. That’s partly why we consider the WEF such a great reporting opportunity.
How do you find news there when there are so many journalists covering the same stories?
We try to steer clear of the low-hanging fruit. The reason Bloomberg sends so many of its best journalists to Davos is to gather the exclusive reporting and find the unique stories that make our coverage truly distinctive.
How do you make your coverage stand out from others?
Prepare feverishly and ask the right questions.
What are your reporting strategies specifically for Davos?
We never want to miss an opportunity to break news, so we prepare an exhaustive list of topics and questions for every newsmaker we’ve decided to pursue. Chance meetings often yield the best information, and they do happen here. For me personally it’s critical to get off the TV set and walk around, take the temperature of the place, see what people are talking about in the corridors. That’s partly how I develop more timely questions.
You’ve talked at Bloomberg beforehand about story angles. Do those change once you get there and hear what people are saying?
Most definitely. We have to be nimble. The WEF is a melting pot of people and ideas. You never really know beforehand what the stew is going to taste like once you get there.
Why is Davos an important story for Bloomberg TV viewers?
Because there is no greater collection of newsmakers anywhere else on the planet. Sure, there are other big confabs. But this event draws an unparalleled array of leaders from politics, business, finance, academia and philanthropy. These are the people who make or influence the decisions that shape our world.
How do you coordinate stories with the other Bloomberg journalists there?
We designate a small group of producers and editors to act as a clearing house. They take the calls from reporters in the field, alert everyone to news as it happens, assign stories and track progress. It’s a pretty slick system run by one of our managing editors, John Fraher.
What’s the biggest story that you’re focusing on this week?
Quite honestly, it’s too early to tell.
How much preparation do you do before you get there, and what preparation do you do?
It’s hard to quantify, because I put the work in when I can. All told, I’m sure it works out to dozens of hours. I started the planning for certain interviews, ones I know will be challenging, before Christmas. Mostly my prep involves reading news stories, studies and company or government documents, as well as reviewing video or transcripts of past interviews I or others have done with the same people.
What’s the strangest thing that has happened to you at Davos?
A few years ago while I was waiting to doorstep a central bank governor I watched George Soros get kicked out of a meeting room by Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Soros was not happy, and while he was quietly fuming away he literally walked into Bill Gates. They struck up a conversation and all was well. Strange? No. Only in Davos? Definitely.