One year in, Bloomberg View still ‘fairly fluid’
David Shipley's been Bloomberg View's top editor since last September, when Jamie Rubin left the organization after reportedly clashing with colleagues. The opinion site, launched on May 25, 2011, earned its first Pulitzer Prize nominations this spring, when Paula Dwyer and Mark Whitehouse were finalists for their work on the European debt crisis. "The opinion is it's going well," Shipley said, laughing, when I asked him for an instant editorial during a phone call Monday.
Shipley's got a lot of goals for the site, whose work also appears on Bloomberg terminals and in Businessweek, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle and the International Herald Tribune, which runs Albert R. Hunt's column, and the Los Angeles Times, which runs View staffer Michael Kinsley's weekly column. It should be a "zone of thoughtfulness in what is really a loud and clamorous world," Shipley said. Its editorials should be prescriptive and "give you a sense of next steps." And it should leverage not just Bloomberg News' reporting but also the vast amount of research available on its terminals. View reporters have gotten good at using the terminals, Shipley said, becoming a public face for somewhat rarefied information like European banks' capital reserves.
That terminal audience is largely hidden from view of us Web greasers. A spokesperson for Bloomberg View says terminal traffic on individual columns routinely exceeds 10,000 views. Here in the prosaic world of standard keyboards and single screens, View had 1.6 million unique visitors in May, according to comScore figures provided by the company.
Shipley says he's encouraged by the site's growth, as well as the number of people clicking through to the second page of opinion pieces, which he calls "a supreme act of interest and agency."
View's 20-strong staff is divided between offices in New York (where it shares offices with Bloomberg Philanthropies) and Washington, D.C., with Marc Champion working in Europe and a player to be named later this year coming in Asia. It's just hired Jonathan Mahler to write about sports, and added Josh Barro to run its blog, "The Ticker." The organization is "by nature a fairly fluid one," Shipley says.
But: How does a fluid, interest-seeking organization fit into the rigorous world of Bloomberg News, whose signature "Bloomberg Way" document, Gabriel Sherman writes in this week's New York magazine, is studied carefully by new hires and includes interdictions such as one against starting sentences with words like "But"?
"We have a little bit of latitude in terms of editorial style," Shipley said. "If you see some editorials, you will see some buts." He has been striving to banish the forbidden preposition from the top of his own sentences, he says, internalizing Bloomberg's view that writing should convey "forward motion."
Next up: A redesign (the current site was thrown together in two and a half months, Shipley said), easier navigation within topics, making the blogs pop and "just get better at everything else."
"People have shown they can find us," he said. "We can do more now to find them." The site's dedication to being a "space where you are looking for ideas that work," for building out from the middle of Venn diagrams of opposing views, can help it build an international audience. "The wiring is there to really work on seeing if there is a way to have a daily global opinion page," he said.