Bloomberg News editor-at-large in Asia Ben Richardson has quit Michael Bloomberg’s business-oriented news agency, in protest of his editors burying an investigative piece on Chinese elites.
According to the New York Times, he is the third journalist to leave Bloomberg News after the story, which explored financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, was axed.
“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,” Richardson told media blogger Jim Romenesko. He said that Bloomberg employees have been threatened with legal action if they speak publicly about the situation.
The investigative piece, written by reporter Michael Forstyhe, was shelved after Bloomberg brass expressed concern that publishing the piece would anger the Chinese government, and lead to the news agency’s expulsion from the country.
Bloomberg LP chairman Peter T. Grauer has said publicly that the company should not print articles critical of General Secretary Xi Jinping, to protect the company’s business interests.
“We have about 50 journalists in the market, primarily writing stories about the local business and economic environment. You’re all aware that every once in a while we wander a little bit away from that and write stories that we probably may have kind of rethought — should have rethought.”
“Clearly, there needs to be a robust debate about how the media engages with China. That debate isn’t happening at Bloomberg,” Richardson said.