Bloomberg News editor Ben Richardson has left the company because one of his reporters, Michael Forsythe, wrote an investigative piece about higher-ups in China that was spiked by top editors for fear it would offend Chinese brass. Richardson, the editor-at-large for Asia news for Bloomberg, told Jim Romenesko of Politico on Monday:
I left Bloomberg because of the way the story was mishandled, and because of how the company made misleading statements in the global press and senior executives disparaged the team that worked so hard to execute an incredibly demanding story.
Forsythe left Bloomberg and joined the New York Times after some of his coworkers quietly revealed that his story was shelved. One reason the story may have been buried was that Bloomberg feared having its employees exiled from China, and the company sells a tremendous amount of financial data terminals in China.
Bloomberg LP chairman Peter T. Grauer said publicly that Bloomberg should watch its step when it criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping because that could affect Bloomberg’s business.
Richardson noted the pusillanimous behavior, commenting:
Clearly, there needs to be a robust debate about how the media engages with China. That debate isn’t happening at Bloomberg. The sad thing about this is that a small group of incompetent and self-serving managers have screwed things up for everyone else. I spent 13 years at the company, as did Mike [Forsythe]. I worked with some fantastic people who did and continue to do great work.
Richardson also said bitterly, “the reporters who worked on the story for months didn’t get to review the copy before it was unilaterally spiked on a conference call with a ludicrous amount of top brass.”