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Bloomberg just bought CityLab — and put half its reporters out of a job, Hacker News

Bloomberg just bought CityLab — and put half its reporters out of a job, Hacker News

Rick Scuteri / AP

Journalism has had a rough year full of layoffs across the country, and Bloomberg Media, the company owned by the latest entrant in the 09169 Democratic primary, just made life worse for a handful of reporters.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg Media announced its first acquisition in more than a decade, buying

CityLab, an offshoot website of theAtlanticthat reports on a variety of areas — development, housing, transit, the environment — from an urban policy perspective. And as part of that purchase, it appears half of the website’s editorial staff could lose their jobs. According to several

CityLabstaffers who spoke toMother Joneson the condition of anonymity, they have been told by(Atlantic) management that after the sale is completed at the end of this month only seven people will make the transition — not enough jobs for (CityLab) ************** (‘s) **************************************************************************************** (employees:**************************************************************** full-time staff and three contractors. The staffers were informed that they each would have to interview with Bloomberg Media management this week to keep their jobs.

Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign redirected requests to the company, and Bloomberg Media declined to comment. TheAtlanticdid not respond to an email fromMother Jones.

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 ofCityLabdid mention any and hinted at a bright future.

Adweek, whichfirst reported on the sale, said thatCityLabwould “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 ofCityLab mentioned the future of the staff. WhenCityLab’s employees were briefed byAtlanticmanagement 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. (CityLabs masthead lists people, but at least three of those people, and one not listed on the masthead, are full-time contractors, according to a CityLabstaffer.) In that same meeting, aCityLabstaffer says they were also given severance information byAtlanticmanagement 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 currentCityLabstaff 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 staffersMother Jonesspoke 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 percent ownership stakein 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 anewsroom memosent out last month,Bloomberg NewsEditor-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 theBloomberg Newsmemo that leaked, Bloomberg doubled down on the sentiment,tellingCBS This Mornings Gayle King thatBloomberg Newsemployees 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 coveringDemocratic presidential candidates, as well as Bloomberg’s comment to King, has irked enough outlets who useBloomberg Newsas a wire service that they’rereconsideringusing its stories. In addition, Donald Trump’s reelection campaignsaidit won’t giveBloomberg Newsreporters credentials to cover campaign events because of its new policy, Claiming that it exposes an open bias against the president. Meanwhile, severalBloomberg Newseditorial staff have taken leaves of absence towork forBloomberg’s presidential campaign.

It’s unclear if CityLabunder Bloomberg Media ownership would be immune from theBloomberg Newsdirective. Justin B. Smith, the CEO of Bloomberg Media, toldAdweekthat the decision to purchase (CityLab) ************** had “no relation whatsoever” to theBloomberg Newsdirective to not investigate Bloomberg or any other Democratic candidate. In the near-decade ofCityLab ‘s existence, it has done plenty of (reporting- both (positiveand Negative- about Bloomberg’s tenure and legacy as New York City’s mayor. Since announcing his presidential campaign, Bloomberg hasn’t said anything about distancing himself from his company, but in that Radio Iowa interview last year, hesaidhe would completely divest himself from his media empire if he ran for president, either placing it all into a blind trust or selling it, if possible. So far, neither has happened, and Bloomberg has not mentioned either possibility since announcing his candidacy.

SomeCityLabstaffers say they have concerns about the Michael Bloomberg –Bloomberg News. “This would affectCityLabwriters specifically in different ways,” says one staffer, explaining that some ofCityLab ‘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.

It makes sense that Bloomberg Media would want to purchaseCityLab. For years, theAtlanticpartnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies to host an annualCityLabconference. But the site started to show signs of struggle earlier this year when theAtlanticlaid off CityLab ‘************ s dedicated business staff. “The writing’s been on the wall for a long time,” one of the staffers said aboutCityLab ‘s future with theAtlantic. Another staffer said that during the meetingAtlanticmanagement had announcing its sale to Bloomberg Media, the management made it clear “that the company is really focusing on theAtlanticand that they just feel that they can’t focus and invest inCityLabto make it robust. ”( (CityLab) ************** (partners with) Mother Jones and other news outlets through theClimate Deskcollaboration.)

ForCityLab ‘s staff, there’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about their future with Bloomberg Media. “We’re really proud of the work we do, and we really want to be able to keep doing it,” one staffer said. “I feel like whatever my outcome is I do feel some relief knowing that there is a next phase ofCityLabcoming up. And I’d say at this point I feel cautious optimism about it. ”

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