Bloomberg fires arts and culture staff, confirms Mike Forsythe departure

Agency says move will lead to future growth and denies claims over HK reporter's sacking

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 2:50am


The Bloomberg news agency said it was cutting staff as it scales back its arts and culture coverage, saying it was seeking to position itself for "significant growth".

The cuts are expected to affect fewer than 40 positions out of more than 2,000 staff, said a source.

Bloomberg also confirmed that Hong Kong-based reporter Mike Forsythe had "left the company", but denied it killed an article he wrote because it could have been embarrassing to Chinese leaders.

Bloomberg editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler said in a memo to staff on Tuesday that the agency was in the middle of a reorganisation and had "evaluated everything we're doing to determine what's working and what isn't".

The memo continued: "It is against this backdrop that we had to make some difficult decisions.

"We were able to reassign a number of people to new positions, and we are grateful for the contributions of those who no longer can be part of our organisation. We are convinced that the changes will help us take Bloomberg News to another level of influence."

The cuts will affect the agency's Muse arts and cultural news coverage. Winkler said some of this will be integrated in the Pursuits leisure reporting.

Bloomberg will also consolidate its special projects team in Washington "and no longer have editors dispersed around the world", the memo said.

"We also decided to concentrate our sports coverage on the nexus with business and no longer do match reports," it added.

"The changes today are a precursor for significant growth in 2014 … Bloomberg News will be bigger next year."

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Forsythe was placed on leave after management decided to scrap an article about a Chinese tycoon and his ties to families of Communist Party leaders, amid fears that it could lead to Bloomberg's expulsion from China.

Forsythe said in a tweet on Tuesday: "I can confirm that I have left Bloomberg News. That's all I'm going to say for now."

Bloomberg said Forsythe "has left the company" and also said there was no basis to the Times report. "As we were very clear with the Times, it is absolutely false that we postponed these stories due to external pressure.

"We are disappointed that they chose to publish a piece that claims otherwise," the Bloomberg statement said.