Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Bloomberg News started laying off and reassigning employees Monday, seeking to emphasize areas that promote growth and focus more on core subjects like finance and government.

Also Monday, Bloomberg said that a reporter based in Hong Kong who had worked on a controversial article about China, and who had been suspended since last week, had left the company. The reporter, Michael Forsythe, was the co-writer of an article that Bloomberg employees said had been quashed for political reasons, an assertion that Bloomberg News denied.

The layoffs cut across several departments, including culture and sports, according to an email that Matthew Winkler, the Bloomberg News editor in chief, sent to employees on Monday evening. He said that the company was scaling back its art coverage and eliminating the Muse brand under which it was presented. It will stop covering sports matches and focus more on sports stories that intersect with business.

Bloomberg is also centralizing some departments, like its investigative unit, which will base its editors in Washington, instead of having them posted around the world.

Saying that Bloomberg needed to adjust its coverage to have “enough firepower in areas we want to own,” Winkler wrote to employees: “It’s against this backdrop that we had to make some difficult decisions today. We were able to reassign a number of people to new positions, and we are grateful for the contributions of those who no longer can be part of our organization.”

Winkler added in his note that within the next year the company planned to expand its emerging market coverage and “be bigger next year than it was at the end of October.”

Ty Trippet, a Bloomberg spokesman, said the company expected to lay off fewer than 40 employees, less than 2 percent of Bloomberg News’ 2,000 employees. Last month, Reuters trimmed nearly 5 percent of its approximately 3,000-person news team, or less than 150 employees.

The departures on Monday included reporters and editors in Washington, Boston, Detroit and San Francisco. Rich Jaroslovsky, a technology writer based in San Francisco, posted on Facebook: “Well, here’s some lousy holiday news: I’ve just been laid off from Bloomberg News.”

The changes come as Bloomberg News has been refuting published reports, including one in The New York Times, saying that Winkler decided to kill two articles about China, including the one by Forsythe and another writer, Shai Oster. Winkler denied that the articles were killed, saying they were still active.