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Bloomberg Revives Controversial Time Stamping System

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 1

In another sign that he’s firmly retaken the helm of his namesake media company, Michael Bloomberg this week quietly reinstated its practice of tracking employees’ whereabouts, WWD.com said.

The system allows everyone in the company to see when their coworkers arrived at work, giving the exact time they swiped their card upon entry. The arrival times are included in intercompany e-mails, according to an insider at Bloomberg, who called the practice a source of paranoia, the report said.

A spokeswoman from Bloomberg declined to comment.

Time-stamping had been done away with under former chief executive officer Dan Doctoroff, who headed the company while Bloomberg was otherwise engaged as mayor of New York. Doctoroff called the Big Brother-esque practice counterproductive via an e-mail to staff. For the most part, the decision was met with relief by employees, WWD said.

But Bloomberg returned to the company that bears his name in September after his 12-year tenure as mayor, and he has been making big changes ever since. Doctoroff exited upon Bloomberg’s arrival, while, earlier this month, the most recent upheaval has been the appointment of John Micklethwait as editor in chief of Bloomberg News, beginning in January.

The former editor in chief of The Economist was a surprise replacement for Bloomberg News founding editor Matthew Winkler, who no one thought would ever leave and now has become the organization’s editor in chief emeritus, according to WWD.

How Micklethwait will steer Bloomberg remains to be seen, but those who know the “intellectual” editor told WWD that he could shift the culture of the organization.

Tim de Lisle, editor of Intelligent Life, The Economist’s bimonthly culture and lifestyle magazine, described Micklethwait’s style as editor as “tactical and practical, with a sharp eye for the bigger picture, ” saying that the editor swiftly adapted the title to the digital landscape and has “staunchly” upheld the church-state distinction, “one of the glories of The Economist”, the report said.

“He will have about 20 times as many editorial staff, so he will have to be hands-off. He will have more power and probably less influence: The Economist punches above its weight; Bloomberg, not so much. But that may be precisely why they’ve hired him, ” de Lisle said.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reported that Bloomberg will launch a flagship media portal, Bloomberg Business, on Jan. 20, quoting a report in Capital New York which cited “sources with knowledge of the plans.”

Though the unveiling has already been pushed back twice, the new launch date would allow the portal to be up and running just in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 21-24.

Capital reported that Bloomberg Business will take over businessweek.com and is expected to function as the epicenter of the company’s media brands, allowing readers to access content from Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Politics, as well as a number of new verticals, according to the Post.

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