One day in early February, the broadcasting division of Bloomberg L.P. let go roughly a hundred employees, including a number of seasoned on-air reporters and anchors. Since that day, the financial world has remained in turmoil and news from the global markets has been breaking around the clock. So how has Bloomberg TV kept up with the increased news flow despite its decreased manpower
In part, by turning some behind-the-scenes employees into on-air reporters
To wit: In recent weeks, under the direction of the company’s new multimedia C.E.O., Andrew Lack, and his deputy, David Rhodes (the network’s new head of American television), Bloomberg TV has been regularly nudging off-air newsmen and -women in front of the cameras
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the list of freshly minted reporters culled from the ranks of segment producers and assignment desk staffers includes Andy Cinko, Lydia Thew, Zahra Burton, and Courtney Donohoe
So does the trial-by-fire approach to talent creation make for good television?
The move has induced some snickers among former Bloomberg veterans. Why, they wonder, in the midst of arguably the most complex financial crisis in the nation’s history, would you want to put inexperienced—and potentially nervous—newborn reporters front and center?
Unlike most TV news operations, Bloomberg TV over the years has never put much of an emphasis on cranking up the wattage of its top anchors and reporters. Along the way, financial graphs have often appeared to upstage the people presenting them
But with Mr. Lack’s arrival in the fall of 2008, some staffers in the broadcasting division hoped that the new chieftain—who served as president of NBC News from 1993 to 2001—would bring a little network swagger to Bloomberg’s historically understated operation. Perhaps, they thought, he might make things a touch more entertaining by, say, unleashing more free-style dialogue and analysis by reporters à la CNBC and Fox Business; or by adding an established correspondent or two to the network’s lineup
Several months into his tenure overseeing Bloomberg TV, Mr. Lack has yet to bring in any big name anchors or reporters and, in fact, appears to be making the largely anonymous cast of reporters and anchors even more anonymous.
“I thought it was a little weird,” said one former staffer. “The fact that the veteran on-air talent was laid off and replaced with co-workers who had never been on air in their life and obviously make less money—and maybe that’s the reason—raised a lot of eyebrows. We thought [Andrew Lack] would come in and turn it up a notch so that we would be competitive with CNBC and Fox Business. Instead, it seems like he’s gone in the opposite direction.
Will Bloomberg TV continue to covert off-air staffers into on-air reporters? Is there any reason for doing do other than saving money? A Bloomberg spokesperson did not respond to several requests for comment.
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