A Bloomberg News editor resigned from the company Monday citing the mishandling of an investigative story from China, Jim Romenesko reports.
Ben Richardson, an Asia editor at large, told Romenesko by email that he also left because of what he termed Bloomberg’s misleading statements to the global press that disparaged the journalists who had worked on the story, an investigation into the financial ties between one of China’s wealthiest men and top officials:
Throughout the process, the threat of legal action has hung over our heads if we talked — and still does. That has meant that senior management have had an open field to spin their own version of events.
Richardson said, “Clearly, there needs to be a robust debate about how the media engages with China. That debate isn’t happening at Bloomberg.”
Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet said by email that the company would not be commenting on Richardson’s resignation other to confirm that he left on March 3.
Ravi Somaiya reports in The New York Times that Richardson is the third journalist to leave Bloomberg News in the wake of the handling of the investigative story, which was held and never published. According to media reports, the company feared China would throw it out of the country and cripple its ability to gather financial data for its important data terminal business.
On Thursday, Bloomberg L.P. Chairman Peter Grauer said the company should rethink articles that fall outside of normal business news rather than jeopardize the major market in China for the company’s products, The New York Times reported.
In his email to Romenesko, Richardson observed that Grauer’s comments “illustrate the frame of mind of senior management from the business side.”
On Tuesday, NPR’s David Folkenflik reported former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and majority owner, concerned about Grauer’s comments, attended Monday’s editorial meeting.
cont: Mike Bloomberg promised his news executives Monday that decisions on stories would always be made in newsroom – for news reasons.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) March 25, 2014
Richardson told NPR that his former colleagues receive a different message because of Bloomberg’s commercial interests in China.
Disclosure: Tim Franklin, the new president of The Poynter Institute, previously worked as managing editor in the Washington bureau of Bloomberg News.