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It couldn't get there, however, without addressing the pitfalls of crowdsourcing and lowest-common-denominator crap Kaufman mentioned to Google. So, in the last two years, the site has worked to rehabilitate its image: Would-be writers must gain admittance via a process that rejects 17 out of every 20 applicants. Lead writers and knowledgeable featured columnists have been added to the roster, and many of the site's early contributors have been bounced. "A few years ago I couldn't look at their site without my eyes bleeding and my head pounding," says veteran sports journalist Kevin Blackistone. These days, "That doesn't happen with the same frequency." It's hard to argue Bleacher Report hasn't improved — but it's impossible to say it hasn't improved its curb appeal. This is what enabled its acquisition by Turner — and what may enable the amalgamated entity to strip the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" mantle from ESPN.
Turner, unlike ESPN, Fox Sports, or Comcast, lacked a major sports web destination. Now it owns the No. 3 sports website in the realm. And with a hulking new digital platform on which to sell ads, Turner has a new method of making money. This would provide a leg up in bidding for whatever comes next. "By expanding their set of assets, it allows Turner to go after things, and, perhaps, successfully obtain things they couldn't otherwise," says Ed Desser, president of Desser Sports Media.
Before this deal, Desser continues, Bleacher Report was "just another aggregator of customer-created content." But now? The wave of the future. No media outlet can ignore the allures of crowdsourcing — or dismiss out of hand the rewards of reverse-engineering content.
"There was a time when the traditional media viewed new media as not up to their standards. But that time has passed," Desser notes. "Tastes change. Look at TV. Think about how much stuff would never have been on 30 years ago: vulgar language, sexual situations, eating bugs. It's all out there now. We're a long way from Ozzie and Harriet."
Or, as Bleacher Report puts it, "If you really want to maximize your fanbase, your best bet is to give the people what they want."
In an era when those who have more get more, when so many have been forced to recalibrate their expectations, it's hard not to see Bleacher Report as epitomizing more than just sportswriting on the Internet. Those on the top have profited handsomely. For the folks whose work powers the site, however, Bleacher Report is often the best opportunity they can find, and a springboard to diminished dreams.
Drew Laskey is an occasional writer and onetime copy editing intern for Bleacher Report — and a full-time North Carolina basketball fanatic. He is now a copy editor for Journatic, an outfit recently popped on This American Life for using fake bylines to obscure that many of its articles were penned in foreign countries by non-native English speakers paid a pittance. Laskey says the articles he copy edits at Journatic, incidentally, are "much cleaner through and through" than those at Bleacher Report.
He still remains an unabashed fan of the site. "If you take Bleacher Report seriously and you have the talent and the ability to learn and take constructive criticism, Bleacher Report can pay off for you," he says. "I've seen it pay off. People have gone on to other websites." He hopes it'll propel him to an internship writing for InsideCarolina.com. This unpaid position would "be my dream job. To have a payment attached to it would be surreal. It's something I can't even fathom."
Bleacher Report alum Lukas Hardonk is one of those writers who've gone on to paying gigs elsewhere. He's now the managing editor of the Maple Leafs Central blog and a contributing editor of TheHockeyWriters.com. "As bad a rap as Bleacher Report gets, it's really tremendous what they did for me," he says. Hardonk wrote three years for the site, but found there were only so many slideshows in his system. By 2011, he realized he'd outgrown Bleacher Report. Still, "they kickstarted my career."
It'll be interesting to see where that career goes after the 17-year-old finishes his senior year of high school.
@evangoldin hmm always wondered what the deal with bleacher report was... now I know! Love the comments from disgruntled contributors!
@Zimmsy Read that yesterday. Do you actually believe that, or is that your play on the general sentiment? It's hard to tell via Twitter.
Can't stand B/R. You have to click through 82 pages to read a average story, nothing but a click-generator.
I would like to see a poll of who in B/R believes what. Personally, as a former F/C myself I have been essentially forced to write on topics that I was less than enthusiastic about. I went back to writing for my own blog because I'd take 500 well earned views over 5000 cheap views.
As a past Featured Columnist for B/R covering a top college football team for 2 seasons, I can confirm everything you said in the article. Many promises to me were broken including press passes to team practices and games, and I was selected twice to cover the Rose Bowl but B/R did not have the credibility to get any of these press passes. Sensationalistic articles were assigned, point systems created to motivate article reads, and the quality of most writers work was abysmal. It became embarrassing to write for B/R and combined with the broken promises, I finally stopped writing. I continue to monitor B/R and it hasn't changed much. It has become too much work to find interesting and well researched articles.
As a current writer at B/R I can assure that the vast majority of this article is true. Your headlines are SEO mandated and CANNOT be changed as I have been told over and over again in recent editor assignment emails.
Additionally I am one of the unpaid people who write free content though I am higher up in the food chain than just a basic contributor. Based on the recent B/R response I feel as though I should be getting paid based on the terms the set forth about who is paid.
The B/R style guide goes against every ounce of AP style that I have had ground into my head by my journalism teacher over the last two years. There is nothing remotely close to actual journalism that occurs on journalism.
Further more if you go out and collect your own factual information you have to source it with another website in order to be considered credible. Your own information no matter how credible it may be had to be sourced by a real paid journalist.
There are times where your own opinion or observation has to be sourced.
To say that B/R is voluntary is absurd...voluntary implies you can write what you want when you want. I can assure you you do not get to write what you want when you want. There are two to three articles a week that are mandated that follow the B/R style and SEO requirements to which you don't get paid for.
Some articles are completely baseless in the reasons they're written written specifically to create controversy and generate traffic.
So yes even after $175-million purchase B/R still doesn't pay 90% of it's staff.
@joshjurnovoy lots of BS. Definitely not a perfect site but not the craphole the article makes it out to be
Here's a little fact I forgot to throw out in my last post: This humongous article is going to boost B/R even more in the search ranks. It is also going to boost SF Weekly, because that's how SEO works. One major internet presence attaches itself to another with keyword rich articles, the other responds by doing the same. B/R and SF Weekly may be on opposite sides of the fence, but they are sure as heck hopping over from time to time to scratch each other's backs. Example: Writer's of SF Weekly wrote this article, King Kaufman countered some of the statements made in this article in a post on B/R's Writer's Blog. Each of the major entities in question are now linked to each other, and loving each and every comment we're making regarding the Subject matter at hand.
I couldn't agree with this article more. I was once a NFL Featured Columnist that got booted because B/R's NFL poster boy, Matt "Little Girl" Miller, had an issue with me. It seems as though this article struck a chord with some of the B/R staff, namely King Kaufman. I say this because I got one of those annoying, automated e-mails from King 'Hairdo' himself, basically stating that there was no cause for concern over this article. King, you're pathetic, just like the rest of your B/R wannabe cronies. I know for a FACT that writers are bullied into writing fluffy, search engine friendly garbage, because I was one of them. If you don't answer to the crack of their whip they want to push you into their laughable Bleacher Report University for some good old-fashioned SEO brainwashing. I'll be one of the happiest people alive if I never have to read another one of B/R's "Top-(insert any number from 3-100)" slideshows. I can't believe I wasted a year of my life contributing to the Walmart of sports websites.
@SirBen_WE It was a good article written from a local. But they got very few current negative opinions for the article. Good write up though
But you read and love its fantasy baseball content, right? Right?@MatthewBerryTMR I found this article fascinating: http://t.co/JMJdUDdC …
@MatthewBerryTMR this is more fascinating: http://t.co/uh3ssY1v
@MatthewBerryTMR taking ur advice and selling high on Turner with A Hawkins for Fred Jackson. A little risky but what do you think?
@carloscollazo__ How did I miss the "10 Possible Tiger Woods Porn Spin-offs: Mistress Edition"? Oh that's right, I don't read BR...
@MatthewBerryTMR I need to pick between James Jones or Maclin as my 3rd wr/TE in a ppr. Thoughts?starting Graham and D Thomas
@MatthewBerryTMR I edited for them for a few months, quite a challenge. I got an email today from BR citing inaccuracies, I didn't think so
@sean_morrison @newsmonkey8 @DeWittCBS The Fake Bleacher Report Twitter feed is priceless, and sometimes tough to discern from "real" BR.
@sean_morrison Not a fan of Bleacher Report myself. Created a generation of fandorks w/ nothing to say who think they're "sports writers!"
@rogersmith So why do you continue to write for them?
@brstinks I think you owe Walmart an apology for comparing them to Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report is filled with BS that is written just to get hits. Walmart sells people products (made in Chinese sweatshops) that they need that actually work.
@brstinks I have no idea why anyone would be "bullied' by BR unless they were getting paid...and paid well. If I was writing for an organization that I knew was throwing crumbs in my face to do the heavy lifting while those at the top became millionaires, I'd laugh in their faces if they tried to "bully" me.
That's kind of like someone in the early 20th century slaving away on the Ford assembly line, except without any pay at all, then cowering when Henry Ford walked into the factory.
I'm all for capitalism, which is why I'm not against B/R on a legal or ethical basis. But until writers respect themselves and draw a line in the sand, sites like B/R will continue to get away getting rich off others nailing jell-o to the wall.
Interesting reference to Walmart at the end. That's kind of what I was thinking the best analogy was for B/R. But then "sports pornography" popped into my head, and it seemed much more appropriate. For MANY reasons....
@brstinks Sounds like you are really bitter. I am a paid FC for B/R and have written for the site for three years and never once was I forced to write an article I didn't want to. I'm sure every experience is different since all writers are not on the same level, but for every gripe like yours there is also someone who appreciates the opportunity to have their work read on a large scale. I appreciate everything B/R has done for me, and the money I earn is just an added bonus.
@MatthewBerryTMR Being 1st v fact checks/proofreading & writing good content. If that doesnt summarize new v old media I dont know what does
@Zimmsy @newsmonkey8 @DeWittCBS However, as the article says -- and sadly for journalism professionals -- their model acts as it intends to.
@SportsGamerShow Too big a debate for Twitter. That's not the point of article. We disagree. Be well.
@MatthewBerryTMR labor they are receiving. The article was very accurate in that they are so dependent on free labor, it works to their...
@MatthewBerryTMR ...quality of the work on the site, and b) the amount of work they require for "reward" is not equal to the amount of free
@MatthewBerryTMR seemed to be defensive (naturally), ironically i stopped working for them b/c a) you begin to question the journalistic...
@MatthewBerryTMR also stated that the reward system was simplified in SF Weekly article, and good work is rewarded meaningfully
@MatthewBerryTMR email said writes do have flexibility to change their assignments and are encouraged to speak out if they don't like them
@sean_morrison @Zimmsy @newsmonkey8 Yes, right now the model works, but google is going to shut down their SEO spam eventually.