EXCLUSIVE: Krugman Battles The Austerians in Bloomberg Markets ‘Rivalry Issue’

Our chat with Ron Henkoff about a very special double issue.

The Bloomberg Markets team has two more weeks to put the July/August double issue to bed. But if this illustration provided exclusively to FishbowlNY is any indication, Bloomberg’s perennially playful visual approach is already in full bloom for “The Rivalry Issue.”

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It started with a challenge from Bloomberg Media chief content officer Josh Tyrangiel to come up with something new and exciting. The result is the first front-to-back themed issue in Bloomberg Markets’ 23-year history.

“When you think about it, everything we cover – finance, business, economics, the markets – it’s all based on competition,” Bloomberg News executive editor and Markets overseer Ron Henkoff tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “It’s all about getting a leg up on each other and trying to be better than each other.”

“Whether it’s a rivalry of economic systems, ideas, people or companies, we set about looking at how we could cover this broad theme in many different ways,” he adds. “And we are doing it on the basis that we cover everything in this magazine – globally.”

Echoing that editorial approach, the video game riff above featuring New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was drawn by Scottish artist Walter Newton. A native of Glasgow, Newton currently lives in Birmingham, England.

Henkoff says there are all sorts of editorial treatments in the issue: standard-length features, shorter items, profiles, graphic novels, timelines and more. Readers can also look forward to pull-quotes sprinkled throughout, featuring people talking about their favorite rivalries and so on.

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“We are having a lot of fun with this,” enthuses Henkoff, a Boston native and Red Sox fan who is well-acquainted with one particular sports rivalry. The July/August issue cover is still being finalized; there will also be a component produced by Bloomberg TV.

Henkoff says the Newton illustration is a perfect example of how the issue is trying to capture and treat complicated subject matter. “Krugman been harping for years on how the European Union and the Euro zone have just got it all wrong by forcing countries like Greece to pour on very tight economic austerity,” he explains. “And so, we call this Krugman vs. The Austerians, which is an actual term. He didn’t coin it; someone else coined it.”

“He’s battling all these people – cabinet ministers, other newspaper columnists, other economists. It’s all about the war of words between him and almost everybody else. It’s a very serious topic, with the future of the European Union at stake. But we’re also showing the very human sides to these kinds of struggles.”