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Mother Jones - December 13, 2019

"SomeCityLabstaffers say they have concerns about the Michael Bloomberg-******Bloomberg Newssituation. “This would affectCityLabwriters specifically in different ways,” says one staffer, explaining that some of ***CityLab’***s staff writes about the specific plans that presidential candidates put forward as it relates to their areas of coverage, like housing, infrastructure, and other city-specific issues."

... In today’s grim media landscape, the announcement of a publication’s sale is usually packaged with news of layoffs, but the initial reports of Bloomberg Media’s acquisition of CityLab didn’t mention any and hinted at a bright future. Adweek, which first reported on the sale, said that CityLab would “continue to operate as a standalone website and brand” under the new ownership, and Michael Finnegan, Atlantic Media’s president, said in a statement that Bloomberg Media would be an “ambitious new owner” for the site, committed to carrying out its mission.

But none of the details of the Bloomberg Media’s acquisition of CityLab mentioned the future of the staff. When CityLab’s employees were briefed by Atlantic management on the sale on Tuesday, they were told that, as part of the acquisition, Bloomberg Media would only be bringing seven people from their staff on board. (CityLab’s masthead lists 15 people, but at least three of those people, and one not listed on the masthead, are full-time contractors, according to a CityLab staffer.) In that same meeting, a CityLab staffer says they were also given severance information by Atlantic management in the event that they are not hired by Bloomberg Media or do “not want to go forward with that [interview] process.” As part of the transition, Bloomberg Media executives have been conducting crash interviews this week with the current CityLab staff who wish to be considered for one of the seven positions.

“Over the last few days, most of the staff has received comments [from friends and on Twitter] saying ‘Congratulations!’ and asking if we’re moving to New York or what our new job title will be,” says one of the CityLab staffers Mother Jones spoke to. “But the reality is most of us are being laid off.”

As his nascent presidential candidacy revs up, Michael Bloomberg has held onto his 88 percent ownership stake in the company he founded, Bloomberg LP, though he has stepped down as its CEO. That has created complications for the company’s news division. In a newsroom memo sent out last month, Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said that because of the conflict-of-interest, the news organization won’t do any in-depth investigative reporting of Bloomberg or the other Democratic presidential candidates. The policy is consistent with comments Bloomberg made last year about the possibility of a presidential run and the potential conflicts of interest that might hold for his business holdings. “I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me,” he said on Radio Iowa. “I don’t want them to be independent.”

Last week, in response to the Bloomberg News memo that leaked, Bloomberg doubled down on the sentiment, tellingCBS This Morning’s Gayle King that Bloomberg News employees would have to just deal with it. “They get a paycheck. But with your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities,” he said. Bloomberg News’ new editorial policy on covering 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, as well as Bloomberg’s comment to King, has irked enough outlets who use Bloomberg News as a wire service that they’re reconsidering using its stories. In addition, Donald Trump’s reelection campaign said it won’t give Bloomberg News reporters credentials to cover campaign events because of its new policy, claiming that it exposes an open bias against the president. Meanwhile, several Bloomberg News editorial staff have taken leaves of absence to work for Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. ...
Read full report at Mother Jones