Friday, February 06, 2009

508a Bloomberg Noose

508a  Bloomberg Noose   

When the titans of news tighten the noose, it's more than just former colleagues and present friends who are left up there swinging from the gallows, it's all of us.

"Consolidation" in the news industry is nothing new.  And some big outfits have been contracting for years.  Sometimes, the contractions lead to live births.  Mostly not. Consolidation?  What's that mean?  "You, you and you over there, you're fired.   You, you and you...  over here... you still have jobs, in fact you have two apiece, just not two paychecks apiece."  Consolidation.

The hangman was busy at Bloomberg World Headquarters this week, in a building that looks like a trendy Manhattan glass tower from without and like a 1957 DeSoto from within.

The company that "doesn't do layoffs," and at one time forbade the word from its airwaves and news wires, did its first ever-large scale firing this week.  It's what happens when you have print and TV guys running radio and TV both.  To put it in some perspective, 100 people out of 10-thousand employees isn't a big number.  Unless your number came up.  Furthermore, everyone looks to have gotten decent bucks and benefits before that trapdoor in the gallows opened.

That same kind of noose has tightened at just about every newspaper and broadcaster in the country.  But at Bloomberg?  That's where people go for good benefits and long term job security and an adventurous ride into the world of a large privately held company with the Midas touch and a 10 hour workday.

There was always upheaval there.  But when the upheaval attenuated (it never fully died,) everyone was still somewhere in the company.  One of the "long timers," Phil Gregory, put it this way -- years ago:  "They hire you to do something at which you're at least marginally competent, then put you in something else about which you know nothing, and that's where you stay."  That quote has been years awaiting the light of day, but the titans wouldn't have liked it.  Get Phil in trouble.  Now, it doesn't matter.

Some of these people will land on their feet, which means they'll eventually find similar jobs elsewhere.  Some, near retirement age, will retire.  Others will find other ways to pay the rent.

All of them are pros and most of them are vets of the media circus.  They know that their friends are still their friends, their talent is still their talent, they won't die and they won't starve.  Half will be tempted to write a tell-all book.  Some will even start before realizing that no one outside the organization would read it and no one inside the organization needs to be told, because they already know.

The world does not stop with layoffs at one company or even one industry.  In fact, one like this pales, statistically, compared to those at, say, Microsoft or Chrysler or Macy's.  Democracy will not fall because there are 100 fewer watchdogs on a company's payroll.

But this isn't good news for the Bloomberg 100 and it isn't good news for the people who relied on them for facts and good stories, good investigation, and often good presentation.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(r)
(c)WJR 2009

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