Here's an audio clip of one of the most amazing newsroom tantrums I've ever heard. That man yelling, with growing fury, is Matthew Winkler, head of Bloomberg's news organization. "The enemy is the human!" he screams, after firing a reporter for making a mistake. Before the clip, an introduction to one of the angriest men in media.
Most modern news editors are reasonable individuals who behave as if they've just been through sensitivity training; any aggression they display is strictly passive. Boring! Thankfully, one throwback to a more rumbustious era still remains: Matthew Winkler, bowtie-wearing editor-in-chief of Bloomberg, the company thought a possible savior of the New York Times if the newspaper falters.
The wire service boss wasn't always a tyrant. While still a humble reporter at the Wall Street Journal, he was known to answer phones with "Matt Winkler. Yes. As in doormat." And he's softened his management style, if only after interventions by Michael Bloomberg, the financial information service's founder. But Winkler, a classic kick-down and suck-up manager, has generally been left to persecute his staff without much interference.
Winkler's temper is so titanic that colleagues have wondered whether he should be on medication. One classic tale: On a visit to the Tokyo bureau of the wire service, at a restaurant meal, the former Wall Street Journal reporter famously began banging the wall to emphasise his points, so forcefully that the lights started flickering, to the consternation of those on other tables.
But we have something better than office legend. A radio reporter called Jeff Weiser was told to pre-write a story on an expected change in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, so that it could be published the instant the news was official. At Bloomberg, no one works for just one service; the company tries to tie together radio, TV and newswires. The system is complicated, and it's easy to make a mistake.
According to a colleague, Weiser's brief headline was a released a few minutes early, as a result of a technical glitch. When he was fired, colleagues remonstrated with Winkler, and begged for Weiser's reinstatement. Here's the "deranged bowtie", quaking with rage. "No. The enemy was not the computer. That's wrong. Excuse me! The enemy was not the computer. That's why we are having this meeting. I figured that a lot of you were going to think this way. It's wrong! It's not the computer, it's the human." (Insert more exclamation marks.)
A resourceful reporter taped Winkler's tirade. And it's spread among survivors of his rule. Now, for the first time, here's the 26-second audio clip. "