June 23, 2014

Just last month, Bloomberg hired John Heilemann and Mark Halperin to anchor a new site dedicated to politics and policy. The two brand-name reporters are the “epitome of the type of quality journalistic talent that moves seamlessly between different kinds of platforms,” said Bloomberg Media Group’s Justin Smith in an interview with the New York Times.

One of those platforms is books. Heilemann and Halperin, after all, are the authors of “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime,” a juicy account of the 2008 presidential campaign, not to mention a mover of language. Prior to the book’s publication in January 2010, there were 198 references to “game changer” in The Post, according to Nexis; in the four-plus years since, there have been 916. Corresponding numbers for the New York Times are 214 “game changer”s prior to “Game Change” and 821 “game changer”s after.

One observer of language is taking a stand against “game changer.” That would be Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of . . . Bloomberg News. Winkler sends weekly notes to staff and commonly opines on matters of style and copy tightness. In last week’s version, Winkler suggested ejecting “game changer” from the game:  “avoid this trite term that trivializes the subject,” wrote Winkler in the memo.

Is that:

1) A recognition of the awesome power of “Game Change”?

2) A passive-aggressive shot at the authors of “Game Change”?

3) A perfectly legitimate shot at an overexposed term?

Bloomberg declined to comment on the matter.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.