Michael Bloomberg owns the company, but chances are he will not command many of its headlines over the next several months
Bloomberg L.P., the financial-data and news company founded by the longtime entrepreneur and former New York City mayor, said Sunday it will not do in-depth reporting on him or other Democratic candidates for the White House in the run-up to the 2020 election, a move that puts the journalism organization in a curious position – sitting out on one of the major strands of a political story that has and will continue to grip the nation. Bloomberg said on Sunday that he would enter the race for the Democratic nomination.
“We will describe who is winning and who is losing. We will look at policies and their consequences. We will carry polls, we will interview candidates and we will track their campaigns, including Mike’s. We have already assigned a reporter to follow his campaign (just as we did when Mike was in City Hall). And in the stories we write on the presidential contest, we will make clear that our owner is now a candidate,” said John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg’s news operations, in a memo to staff sent Sunday. But, Micklethwait told employees, “we will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.” The company follows similar policies about its own direct competitors.
The news organization is simply carrying out a long-held policy of not originating investigations into its own workings, and not covering Bloomberg’s wealth or personal life. At the same time, enterprise reporting is the lifeblood of many newsrooms at a time when press announcements and incremental developments represent commodity product that is often indistinguishable from one news outlet to the next.
Micklethwait said Bloomberg would continue to do in-depth reporting on President Donald Trump, and would publish accounts of other news organizations’ investigative reports on its founder and his Democratic rivals. But, if Bloomberg emerges as the Democratic candidate, “we will reassess how to do that,” Micklethwait said.
Bloomberg will also suspend its editorial board, where its top executive had the most influence, and for the time being cease publishing unsigned editorials. David Shipley and Tim O’Brien, both of whom work as executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, will join Michael Bloomberg’s campaign operations, taking a leave of absence from their editorial duties. Columnists will continue to work as they normally would, and the section will continue to run opinion from outside contributors, but likely not on the elections.
“There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves (and very rarely about our direct competitors,” Micklethwait said. ” No previous presidential candidate has owned a journalistic organization of this size.”