Pearlstine to make the most of Bloomberg

May 12, 2008

pearlstine.jpgIt looks like Norman Pearlstine couldn’t resist the glamorous life of journalism. After two years in the private equity business at the Blackstone Group Carlyle Group (D’oh!), Pearlstine is joining Bloomberg LP as “chief content officer,” where, as Bloomberg said in a press release, he will work with “Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler to seek growth opportunities for its
television, radio, magazine and online products and to make the most of the
existing Bloomberg News operations.”

Pearlstine used to be the editor-in-chief of Time Inc for 11 years, and before that spent 23 years at The Wall Street Journal. More details on his CV, directly from the release :

He was the paper’s top news executive for nine years, serving as Managing Editor and then Executive Editor. He previously worked as the founding editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal/Europe, the first Managing Editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal, and the Tokyo bureau chief.

Pearlstine was founder of Smart Money magazine and worked as an Executive Editor of Forbes. He is the author of OFF THE RECORD: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources , published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007.

We don’t know what to make of this. Our immediate questions:

- Will he succeed Winkler, with whom he worked at the Journal?

- Will he put Bloomberg into M&A mode?

- Will he work on an effort to take Bloomberg LP public? (This idea has come up at least once before)

Pearlstine wasn’t available for comment, so we’ll just publish our questions here and invite comments, but Bloomberg’s top editorial executive, Matt Winkler, did  call. Here’s a bit of what we talked about:

Q: Why Pearlstine?

A: Nobody brings as much experience in so many different ways as Norm does… Our hope is that Norm can give us a lot more awareness and guidance on ways we can deliver [our news] well beyond the Bloomberg.

Q: When did you first meet him?

A: The meet-and-greet was probably in the halls of Dow Jones & Co when I arrived in 1980, and he was the national news editor at The Wall Street Journal. People would point him out to me as a really important person you ought to know, so maybe on the way to the men’s room I was able to introduce myself. (They started working closely together in 1982 when Pearlstine was planning the European edition of the WSJ and asked Winkler to go to London)

Q: What do you think of him?

A: I would say that everything that I know that’s worth anything in this business, the news business, I can attribute to Norm.

Q: Does his new job at Bloomberg mean that you will retire?

A: I would hope that I’m just getting started, actually.  The first 18 or so years went by really fast. I think the biggest opportunities are ahead of us. I can’t wait to go at them with Norm at my side.

Q: By the way, is there a hiring freeze at Bloomberg?

A: Not exactly. The management committee at Bloomberg… saw what was unfolding with the financial world — they could see what was coming last July — and said, ‘what we want to do for the coming year is effectively freeze the headcount.’ (This does not mean that they are not hiring as people leave, however) We’re determined to find and identify and bring to Bloomberg the most talented, skilled journalists we can.

(Reuters photo shows Pearlstine on the left in his role as president of the American Academy in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the middle and former U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Holbrooke on the right.)

(Disclaimer that you’ve probably read before: Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters are competitors in providing financial news and data.)

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