Bloomberg News founding editor Matthew Winkler stepping down

Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News (above), is stepping down from his role leading the news service after 25 years, marking the latest shakeup since Michael Bloomberg said he would return to the helm of his namesake company next year.
Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News (above), is stepping down from his role leading the news service after 25 years, marking the latest shakeup since Michael Bloomberg said he would return to the helm of his namesake company next year. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, is stepping down from his role leading the news service after 25 years, marking the latest shakeup since Michael Bloomberg said he would return to the helm of his namesake company next year.

Winkler will be succeeded by The Economist magazine editor in chief John Micklethwait, who will take over in early 2015, Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

"I have always believed that organisations benefit from internal change," Michael Bloomberg said in a memo to employees that was reviewed by Reuters.

Micklethwait's arrival "will give us the chance to unify the editorial side of our company," from real-time news to its magazines and digital properties, Bloomberg said.

Winkler, as editor-in-chief emeritus, will work with Bloomberg on strategic efforts, the memo said.

With 2,400 reporters and editors in more than 150 bureaus worldwide, Bloomberg News competes with Thomson Reuters Corp and News Corp's Dow Jones Newswires in providing financial news and information.

"This is all a piece of figuring out the next step of Bloomberg News as they attempt to make it a major consumer brand," said Ken Doctor, a media analyst at Newsonomics.

Doctor noted the move follows the remake of its Businessweek magazine and the development of Bloomberg Politics.

Micklethwait has been with The Economist, which is half owned by Pearson's Financial Times media group, since 1987.

The Economist now has a weekly print circulation of around 1.5 million worldwide, with 100,000 digital subscribers.

A source familiar with Michael Bloomberg's thinking said he was looking for a global thinker with an understanding of economics as well as geopolitics for the editor in chief post.

Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders Analysis, praised Micklethwait for steering the Economist through the last global recession, saying the magazine managed to emerge with impressive growth in both its print and digital subscriptions.

"He's been the editor at the helm as the Economist has gone through what all media business have been through, which is the complex transition to digital," said McCabe. "The Economist has come out with its reputation enhanced as a business that has understood how to manage that transition."

Winkler has long been identified with Bloomberg News since he joined from the Wall Street Journal as its founding editor in 1990, overseeing its expansion from a startup news wire to a global media organisation.

"Congratulations to my friend and colleague John Micklethwait," Winkler said in a post on Twitter.

"Excited to work with him and start a new chapter."

Micklethwait is the latest in a series of high-profile media executives to join Bloomberg as it sought to broaden its horizons as a news organisation, from Time Inc editor Norman Pearlstein to former Atlantic Media head Justin Smith, who continues to be chief executive of Bloomberg Media Group. Pearlstein left last year to return to Time.

Last year, Winkler was criticised over reports that he had scrapped an investigative report into the financial ties of China's wealthiest men, a contention that he denied.

Under his tenure, Bloomberg LP also acknowledged that reporters had limited access to data about its clients' use of the organisation's terminals, such as when a customer logged in or sought information about assets.

Michael Bloomberg had stepped away from overseeing the company while serving three terms as mayor of New York City, leaving that post at the end of 2013.

In September, he announced plans to return to the news organisation, replacing chief executive Daniel Doctoroff.

According to the source familiar with Michael Bloomberg's thinking, he did not seek to change Winkler's role at that time.

"Mike didn't want to make a move immediately because he didn't want it linked to China or the reporters' use of data issue, especially because that occurred when Mike was still there," the source said.