"[A] faceless factory of slideshows and sportswriting gruel, and nothing more"
August 22, 2011 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Best known as the butt of jokes among sports bloggers and for their ever-present slideshows, Bleacher Report is slowly taking steps to offer better content.

Earlier this year B/R hired King Kaufman, from Salon, to oversee writer development. Today, B/R announced the start of their Lead Writer Program with five writers, four of whom were some of their biggest critics.
Dan Levy, of OntheDL podcast and Sporting News
Dan Rubenstein, of the Solid Verbal and Sports Illustrated
Bethlehem Shoals, of FreeDarko.com
Josh Zerkle, of Washingtonpost.com and KissingSuzyKolber
and Matt Miller, an in-house Bleacher Report writer
With the start of Bleacher Report U, the site is also trying to improve the writing of their current contributors.
posted by gladly (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, they could hardly get worse, could they?
What I've seen of BR re-posted on the Vancouver Canucks' message board reads like stuff written by 12-year olds (meaning they fit right in over there at least).
posted by mannequito at 5:57 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

hmmm... I used to really like Kaufman's stuff on Salon. Interesting.
posted by oddman at 5:57 PM on August 22, 2011

Well, they could hardly get worse

Exactly. The last time I thought about B-R was when this lame but accurate satire made the rounds recently. They've got a long way to go before anyone actually reads their site on purpose rather than getting halfway through an article before looking at the URL, followed by an immediate facepalm and closing the window.
posted by RogerB at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Slidshow: 20 writerss who will improve bleecher report.

(I hope this doesn't mean the end of the VeryFakeBR Twitter comedy).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:12 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bleacher Report is trying to directly challenge Grantland with these hires. All the guys who they've hired have a lot of cred among the sports blogosphere, especially Bethelehem Shoals. I've enjoyed the writing at Free Darko and Kissing Suzy Kolber. It'll be interesting to see whether they will be given similar latitude to what Simmons gives his staff at Grantland.

I'll be adding BR to my morning links and see if they become worthy adversaries to Simmons and his crew. I can always use more intelligent sports writing to read.
posted by reenum at 7:14 PM on August 22, 2011

This clears up a bit of a mystery for me this morning - I forgot to check the URL in the RogerB recommended manner and actually found myself reading an interesting article at Bleacher Report (this one if you're interested, nice lightweight review of non-standard NBA defensive stats).

It was surprising enough that I spent a couple of minutes trying to find out what had happened to BR. This only proved that someone will take the time to list the 100 greatest entrance themes in wrestling history in slideshow form and BR will happily host it. My bad.
posted by N-stoff at 7:16 PM on August 22, 2011

Seems like a big shift for BR--correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a great deal of their content user-created?
posted by box at 7:21 PM on August 22, 2011

Okay, I don't give a damn about sports and I've never heard of this site before. But I do know something about journalism, and I know there are plenty of real, talented journalists who love writing about sports. Some of them are friends of mine. And I know how hard it is to find a real job in journalism these days.

Especially with all the SEO content farms sites clogging up the available attention shelf space with junk they got for free from wannabes.

I mean, if they want to move away from that model and be taken seriously, surely they could have as many really capable sports journalists as they could possibly want working for them tomorrow without having to try and invest the time and money to make the wannabes better?
posted by Naberius at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I tried Bleacher Report when it first came out. Wrote a couple of articles.

I promptly quit Bleacher Report when I had guys come in and "fix" my articles, putting grammatical errors in them all over the place.

Stereotypes are often based in fact. Few people would consider your stereotypical hardcore male sports fan to be a man who aspires to thoughtful prose: the poetry of Scully, the wit of Cosell, the aggressiveness of Ali.
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:08 PM on August 22, 2011

They pay nothing to the overwhelming majority of their writers. At least examiner.com tosses a few coins to the folks who write for the site.

The first assignment in their training curriculum? Write based on hot keywords. "The majority of B/R readers come to the site via search engines like Google and Yahoo. The Hot Keyword Database is an updated catalog of the Web’s most popular search terms—and your ability to incorporate these terms in your articles will be instrumental in your efforts to generate visitor traffic and maximize your exposure."

In the second assignment, "In Steps 2 and 3 of your first B/R U assignment, you learned about the importance of keyword optimization in headlines and article text. Those lessons are relevant to every content item you publish on B/R."
posted by ambient2 at 10:53 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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