Bloomberg BNA editor explains reorganization amid layoffs
Bloomberg BNA editor in chief Cesca Antonelli sent out the following email to the staff on Wednesday explaining the news organization’s reorganization and why it’s laying off staff:
I am going to try and cut to the chase. We have unmatched talent and potential in our ranks. I see it in the listening sessions I have been doing with reporters and editors. I see it in our ideas meetings. I often see it in our work.
We are going to change our organizational structure to unlock those talents. Starting today, we are remaking how we cover the legal market. The five groups that produce the bulk of the Bloomberg Law news products will become two: one focused on beat reporting and one focused on what we are calling “Legal Intelligence.”
Whether your strength is working the phones from tips to scoops, or mining 50 cases a day to find the one gem our readers can’t live without, we need to be indispensable to our customers. Reorganizing the coverage allows us to focus our resources where they can be most effective and to truly pursue both types of reporting. As we create a shared newsroom culture, we serve our customers best by always being urgent, relevant and thorough. That is how we have impact.
We have the opportunity now to build something great. The scale of our newsroom allows us to do what the competition cannot. I don’t typically like to send around long missives from the corner of the room and I am not fond of the concept of a grand “100 days’’ plan since reporting often feels more like trench warfare — and it is not even 100 days yet anyhow. But all the same, it would be good for everyone to understand how we plan to make the most of the moment.
First, the new teams. In Legal Intelligence, News Director Tom Taylor will have three groups. We are creating an exciting team focused on redefining how we tackle case summaries, court opinions and the daily decisions that our customers need most, across all our legal beats. There will be a legal reporter job posting up soon with more details, but essentially this is covering courthouse action and complex legal decisions in real time. Cutting through the noise and getting to the point of a 100-page document without missing anything. Jo-el Meyer will be the team leader, reporting to Tom.
We also are centralizing our Insights commentary for BLAW. This will allow us to be more focused in opinions we solicit from law firms, more on the news in our coverage, and more diverse in the opinions we seek across all beats. In the end, we should have more Insights that are better read and make us the center of the legal community. Lisa Rockelli will be the team leader, reporting to Tom.
And we will be expanding our coverage of the business and practice of law – news about the big firms themselves, the Supreme Court and what is now U.S. Law Week, and big-picture takes on things like legal ethics and AI. Jessie Kamens will be the team leader, reporting to Tom.
Those teams will be lean and mean and focused on creating new ways to do what we do.
The rest of our legal coverage will move under News Director Karen Ertel, who will lead five teams of reporters and editors in our efforts to use sources, interviews, FOIAs and shoe-leather beat reporting to break news and craft outstanding enterprise and analysis. The point is to break down as many of our remaining silos as possible, to stop thinking about which publications we are writing for, and to just work together to break stories and spot trends.
The beat teams will focus on labor & employment, under Team Leader Terry Hyland; healthcare & benefits, under Fawn Johnson; securities, bankruptcy & trade, under Seth Stern; and IP & privacy, under Keith Perine. Karen is also creating a First Move team that will masterfully produce all the newsletters and highlights for BLAW in one umbrella group, under Pat Joy.
This allows us to put many people in exciting new leadership roles and to give reporters and editors fresh eyes on their work and new avenues for advancement.
There will be some management changes in the other desks as well. Rob Tricchinelli becomes a team leader on environment, reporting to Greg Henderson. Patrick Ambrosio moves to tax to help Rachael Daigle and Meg Shreve chart the course there. As Rachael and Greg settle in, there will undoubtedly be other opportunities that arise in those teams.
At BGOV, News Director Heather Rothman will be redistributing some of the editing and reporting resources, giving Loren Duggan more authority across the teams and building up Zack Sherwood’s team to double-down on our newsletters.
In central news, I have mentioned that we are expanding the mission to drive a culture of excellence and collaboration throughout the newsroom, to curate our platforms and to improve our editing. Paul Connolly will become news director to run the group. You have seen us add firepower like Cheryl Saenz to the desk, and you can expect a few additional editing, engagement, and graphics hands to come in the weeks ahead. Marissa Horn will move from environment to central news to help manage our social media accounts. She and Ian Lang will report to Jessica Coomes as we expand our footprint there.
Change is hard but it is necessary. No one likes to see journalists leave us. But we must be nimble. And we need to invest in the future and re-examine every aspect of coverage. As you can see from this note, we are moving away from our traditional titles and using terms like “team leader.” Some people will move around to new groups to provide more editing or reporting resources where they are most needed; more editors will be working across desks to move copy throughout the day.
Paul Albergo and I will be hosting sessions with teams to talk through questions (starting at 1 p.m. Thursday, invites with locations to come) and doing 1-on-1 meetings where roles are changing. Things will feel a little chaotic at first. Sometimes small things will need to be decided first before we get to something larger that might seem more important.
The biggest thing everyone can do is this: Focus on your story. It won’t take us long to get through this.
Our co-founder and long-time chairman John D. Stewart wrote his own missive in 1977 about the editor’s job at BNA. “Our subscribers are users, not readers. We must presume that they buy our service, not because they are interested in its subject matter, but because they need the information to help them keep out of trouble or to make money,” he said.
While times have changed and we have now moved not just beyond linotype but beyond print (almost) entirely, it is gratifying to see that some things remain the same. Our journalism – whether it is scoops or case-law analysis or investigative work – has to be indispensable. I am excited that we are moving the newsroom to the next level after a long and storied history.
Thank you all for your hard work.