Media Moves

Bloomberg EIC Micklethwait explains layoffs, reorg

November 17, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

John MicklethwaitBloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait sent out the following to its editorial and research staff on Thursday:

To All in Bloomberg Editorial & Research,

Today has been a tough day for the newsroom. No editor likes to say farewell to good journalists, but these are necessary changes that fit into the long-term strategy that we laid out last year: to be the definitive chronicle of capitalism, to focus on our six pillars, to be one newsroom, to push power down to individual journalists and editors, to make much better use of graphics and data, and to always look for better ways – especially by using technology – to serve customers who, across all our platforms, are usually shorter of time than money.

We have already seen the gains from this in terms of our journalism. We have pushed up usage on both the terminal and the web, strengthened the quality of our television and radio, and we have a promising events list for next year. We have produced a stream of innovative products, including Gadfly, Daybreak and TopLive as well as consumer facing verticals like Bloomberg Tech and Bloomberg Markets. We collaborate far more than we did – not just journalists working together but also in partnership with Bloomberg Intelligence: witness the success of the peer reviews. We are also doing more with BGov, BNEF and BNA. So we are heading in the right direction. We simply need to do more – and that does involve making some structural changes.

This long memo will hopefully give you some idea how this all fits together. There are also two separate memos from Justin Smith and me (on Bloomberg Politics and Businessweek) and one from Chris Collins to our markets team. There is a lot to take in; no doubt many of you will skip forward to the bits that directly affect your world. But I would ask you to read all of this one. All these changes need to be seen as part of a whole, rather than just in isolation.

We are merging our First Word and Markets teams. That is partly because of the overlap between them, which has become more obvious as the silos have disappeared elsewhere. Although we do a lot of great coverage of markets between the Markets Beat Reporting team, First Word and the Web, we need to think as one newsroom. The new joint team will be run by Madeleine Lim, who will report to Chris. But centralising our markets coverage into one team is also rooted in our belief that we can deliver a better product to customers. For example, we will produce a Markets blog for Top that’s similar to the Top live blog, and will deliver more commentary and analysis pieces that can replace some of our backward-looking narrative wraps. Part of the goal is to generate sharp, real-time reporting that’s tailored for specific player types. We are dividing the group more clearly into eight teams, mostly organized by asset class: equities and equity markets (Chris Nagi); credit (Tom Freke); FX/rates (Jenny Paris); emerging markets (Justin Carrigan); cross-asset (Tracy Alloway). Sarah McDonald will be the Managing Editor for all Asia markets. Clay Eltzroth will be the ME for curation of markets content, including TOP live events. Mike Regan will be the lead blogger on Markets Live, which will report directly to Madeleine. And we will also bring Markets magazine into this team, so that we have all short- and long-form markets coverage in one place. And there is one final part of this jigsaw. I am delighted that Bob Burgess will set up a new “Analysts Corner” in Bloomberg View, where we will ask market pundits to write for us. I hope this will grow in the same way that Gadfly has done. Bob will now report to David Shipley.

We have already devolved power to the regions, but we can do more. I have therefore promoted Heather Harris, David Merritt and John McCorry to senior executive editors. And they will be responsible for TOP in their regions, so Europe, Asia and the Americas each have a front page of their own. We need to learn from the web: customers, perhaps unsurprisingly, want to come to a front page that is targeted at their region. At the moment almost half of our US terminal clients use TOP, but the figures elsewhere are much lower: Germany (14%), France (15%), Hong Kong (32%). In time I would like to work on a better version of TOP that makes clearer the depth of content we have in Editorial & Research.

Graphics and data journalism will be a key weapon in this. Our charts and pictures have become much better, but we need to be more precise about the way we use them, especially on the terminal. To this end, I have asked Cesca Antonelli to become the senior executive editor in charge of all our Graphics – so she has responsibility for both data journalism and also photographs. Martin Keohan, who has done a superb job assisting Wes Kosova, will become executive editor in data journalism, while Natasha Cholerton-Brown will run our Visual Media department, reporting to Cesca.

Focus matters. The six pillars we have built the newsroom around – Business, Finance, Markets, Economics, Technology and Power – give us a clear structure. As you all know, we have been building up Bloomberg Intelligence. We have only a limited amount of journalistic and financial resources at Bloomberg and we need to concentrate on the areas where we can make a difference – and where we can apply the full force of the newsroom. This applies to the changes at Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Politics.

We can all be proud of the way that Bloomberg Politics has covered the American election. As Justin and my memo points out, “With All Due Respect” has achieved record numbers of viewers, while our web site led the way on many of the campaign’s biggest stories. But the campaign is now over so we have agreed with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann that we will continue “WADR” as a regular nightly show till December 2nd – and then produce a series of hour long specials on the Trump presidency to be shown in the inauguration week, with WADR appearing one last time on Inauguration day. After that we need to continue to sharpen the focus of our American political coverage on the nexus between government and business. We plan to introduce a new global politics television program in February and we will also remodel the web site so that it has a more global feel. Craig Gordon and John Fraher will share responsibility for the web site, with Craig being promoted to executive editor reporting to Wes Kosova, who will become our new Washington Bureau Chief and senior executive editor for US government. All of them will continue to report to Marty Schenker. We have 170 journalists devoted to covering government around the world (and many more if you include BGov and our economists): we can lead the way.

Bloomberg Businessweek is the showcase for much of our finest journalism. But in its current format, it is not persuading enough people to subscribe to it; and, journalistically, it is too separate from the rest of the newsroom. Both Justin and I believe that that we can create a much more successful Bloomberg Businessweek, with a new editorial and business model – in much the same way that we have relaunched Markets Magazine. In May we will unveil a new Bloomberg Businessweek as a global weekly business and finance magazine. We are still working on a new business model, but it will come with a daily afternoon app and have a protected part of the web site. Structurally, we will still keep BBW editors separate, but we will integrate BBW journalists into our beat reporting teams once they move into the main newsroom, which will hopefully be in December. At the moment, Businessweek does not reflect the full power and knowledge of the newsroom.

We have decided that this needs new leadership on both the editorial and the commercial side. Justin is hiring a new business head. Ellen Pollock has been a magnificent leader of BBW in its current format. The new editor and deputy editor of Businessweek will be Megan Murphy and Otis Bilodeau, who both come from the wider newsroom. Until May, Megan and Otis will produce the existing Businessweek with the existing staff – and then we will unveil what I’m convinced will be the best business magazine on the planet.

Turning to Pursuits, it is harder to claim that luxury is part of our six editorial pillars, but it is also true that our customers all have lives and interests outside of their day-jobs. The raison d’etre of Pursuits is to service this need while delivering commercial value, which it sadly does not do yet and shows no sign of doing so as a magazine published on our current print frequency. But Pursuits does have real editorial strengths, which would add something to BBW, as well as more commercial potential online. Our plan is to produce two standalone print issues of Pursuits next year – one as planned in March with a second in October/November. And in the new version of Businessweek in May, we will look at the idea of having some form of weekly Pursuits/etc section, perhaps with a more cultural edge. Emma Rosenblum will continue to run Pursuits across all platforms, but given the new accent on digital she will report to Jed Sandberg.

We have only an outline how a new Businessweek might work. But one thing is clear: it will succeed only if the whole newsroom feels that the magazine is our journalistic showcase. And that is how we have to think, as one newsroom, working across many platforms with the terminal at the center. Integrating television and radio into that has been one of our great successes: so Al Mayers and I are both delighted that Jason Kelly has agreed to take over Otis’s role as executive editor for global TV, in addition to his responsibilities as New York bureau chief. Meanwhile our P&I team will move under Laura Zelenko: we will continue to invest heavily in investigative work, with BBW as a showcase for the best work.

Finally, on the subject of one newsroom, we will continue to look for ways to bond Editorial & Research together and simplify the systems we use. At the moment it is a muddle, including Flow, Copy, Trello, Slack and of course IB. Even if there are particular areas where some systems are slightly more useful than others, there is a massive loss from the point of integration. We will begin to standardize: you will hear more on that soon. We will also look for ways to improve the 3pm meeting in New York so that it becomes a forum for smart ideas from all across the newsroom.

In the end all these changes are about people. Talent is what makes us great. I am proud of the fact that we will have more women in senior leadership positions – but we need to do more.

So there it stands. It is a lot to take in. I know today has been painful for many people. But I also believe that we will now have an organization more targeted on being that chronicle of capitalism.

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