Bloomberg News, the global media organization headed by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, will lay off about 80 journalists this week in a rare retrenchment for the high-flying company.
New York-based Bloomberg employs about 2,400 journalists in 150 bureaus worldwide, and it generally has been in a growth mode in recent years as other news organizations have pared back.
But the privately held company will announce this week that it is cutting about 3 percent of its editorial staff. The layoffs will be spread throughout the company and across bureaus, people familiar with the plans said. News of the layoffs was first reported by the New York Post.
About a dozen positions will be cut in Bloomberg’s 200-person Washington bureau, with a larger, undetermined number in New York and elsewhere.
A company spokesman, Ty Trippet, declined to comment on Monday.
The layoffs come after Michael Bloomberg’s return about a year ago (following three terms as New York mayor, the last as an independent, after being elected twice as a Republican) to managing Bloomberg LP, the software, data and news company he founded in 1981. The company is the source of Bloomberg’s enormous wealth, estimated by Forbes at $36.9 billion.
A few months after his return as chief executive, he hired John Micklethwait, then editor of the Economist, as editor in chief of Bloomberg’s news operations, replacing co-founder Matthew Winkler.
Bloomberg has long specialized in business, economic and technology news that it distributes through the parent company’s proprietary terminals, which are installed in financial services companies around the world. It also owns Bloomberg.com and the financial-news Bloomberg TV channel. It publishes newsletters and magazines, including Bloomberg Businessweek. (Bloomberg News also has a syndicated news service partnership with The Washington Post.)
Micklethwait has sought to beef up and reorganize Bloomberg’s Washington news operations.
In an April 23 staff memo, he wrote about “the need to improve our coverage of American government and politics — and my feeling that the many different parts of Editorial have not been working together closely enough.” He concluded: “We will now fix this — and I expect you all to help.”
In June, some in the Washington bureau privately complained about the bureau’s management and apparently tense relationship with top editors in New York. Bloomberg last year launched Bloomberg Politics, a Web site that is largely directed from New York. The site is headed by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, the co-authors of the best-selling book “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential campaign.
In a staff memo on Aug. 6, Micklethwait wrote that Bloomberg’s coverage would focus on “business, finance, markets, technology, economics and what I have called power (basically government and politics) — and that we need to tackle these subjects where possible globally and across all our platforms.”
Micklethwait appointed a top lieutenant, Martin Schenker, to oversee global coverage of government, politics and economics from Washington. He also hired Megan Murphy, a former Financial Times journalist, as Washington bureau chief.
Micklethwait didn’t mention any cutbacks as recently as that Aug. 6 memo, in which he wrote: “Over the next few months, we will continue to look for ways to sharpen our reporting, building new teams in fast commentary, our mobile Daybreak offering and data journalism, as well as redoubling our efforts in Asia. There is a lot to do.”