How to tell a Matt Winkler headline and lead

Letter to Romenesko

From ANONYMOUS: I work at Bloomberg News, and I was grinning at a recent story that just betrays how editor-in-chief Matt Winkler thinks, and how easy it has become for people in the company to identify his fingerprints on a story. So here it is (below):

* First telltale: The theme. The biggest bugaboo right now at Bloomberg is how wrong the credit companies are and have been. Probably valid, but the method employed is just to show off repeatedly how markets think that S&P and Moody’s are irrelevant. Previous ones: Fed secrecy over bailouts, municipal finance bid-rigging, etc.

* Headline: “Defied” is a favorite word, for some reason. Also “capitulate”

* Lead: You see a lead this long, you know it would have been cut down to 3-4 lines (as seen on the 64-line limit on the Bloomberg terminal) by any editor, UNLESS it was dictated specifically by Winkler.

Matt Winkler

* Language: Again, you see language that would never get through Bloomberg straight-up style unless Winkler made it so. His Weekly Notes forever whittles away words and expressions that we can use, and here we have a *gasp* adverb in “dutifully” and gamely artistic turns of phrase like “declarations of calamity” and “little different from a coin flip.” It’s a good story, actually, I’m just jealous that I’m not able to use words and phrases like this without being called out for making Bloomberg News “forever contaminated” (yes, he used that expression in his Weekly Notes internal style memo).

Actually what’s missing to make this a truly Winkler-esque story is the truly obtuse headline — this one is OK. The strangest headlines are usually dictated by him to underlings, and are a jumble of gerunds and obscure company names. The Strange Bloomberg Headlines site is well loved by the drones in the company. A classic one from years back:

Citigroup Cashiers Mr. `Large’ Before ’08 Equities in Dallas

What the fuck does that mean?

* Earlier: Winkler explodes again, blasts reporters for Twitter practices (Business Insider)