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Mar 11 / Brian Grey

Statement from Bleacher Report CEO Brian Grey

March 11, 2011 – Earlier today, a Bleacher Report contributor posted an extremely insensitive piece comparing the devastation in Japan to natural disasters that have affected U.S. sporting events.

While the author did not intend to be insensitive to the terrible event in Japan, this concept and accompanying content were completely inappropriate and should not have been posted. To make matters worse, the piece was moved to our homepage in an initial effort to increase its visibility.

We deeply regret the posting and promotion of such content and we apologize to the people of Japan and to our readers for this clear lapse in judgment.

The senior leadership at Bleacher Report accepts responsibility for this unfortunate incident. Posting rights for the contributor who initiated the piece have been suspended and the actions of the editors involved are being reviewed.

As we’ve posted previously, Bleacher Report is making an immediate cash donation to the Red Cross relief fund and will continue to provide support to those efforts. Our thoughts remain with the people of Japan as they attempt to overcome this unimaginable tragedy.

Brian Grey

Chief Executive Officer
Bleacher Report

  • Shirley

    I respect that as a company you own up to the mistake, errors occur all the time, but thats the true difference between good and bad companies.

  • Milton

    Classy response. I did not see the item, but applaud this response nonetheless.

  • Mike

    Perfect example of the tunnel vision one can acquire in the pursuit of eyeballs and SEO — and not just to Bleacher Report, which overall is becoming a much stronger Web site. It’s just a cautionary tale on the high price of Google real estate, when pursued in a misguided fashion.

  • James Williamson

    As a writer, I could see the temptation to bring up the past, but this is not the time. My prayers go to the people in Japan.

  • Dmitriy

    I am not at all surprised that this happened, but it’s a shame that it had to happen to such a great company as Bleacher Report. I applaud Brian and the rest of the BR staff for admitting that a mistake was made instead of just sweeping it under the rug. Incidents like this will continue to occur, so it’s good to know that some companies out there still have some integrity.

  • Steve

    There is a certain risk that accompanies the immediacy of online media outlets as opposed to print media, as well as a platform that supports and promotes the voice of passionate amateurs. This sort of thing is a strong lack of judgment, but one that was handled in a positive way afterward. I applaud the higher-ups of B/R for their reactions, and for turning a black eye into a raising of funds/awareness of a terrible tragedy. Everyone deserves a second chance, and I sincerely hope that B/R is afforded that same opportunity.

  • Thomas

    Oh, so I am a published writer my whole life, and can’t get a writing account, but this guy can. Awesome. Good to know. Thanks Bleacher Report!

    • E

      Maybe it’s something to do with the grammatical error of using the wrong tense in your complaint about it.

    • Frank

      Thomas – this site is for teenagers to spew garbage in slideshow format so they can drive up pageviews and sell advertising. Talent has nothing to do with this site.

      • Ashleigh Elizabeth Hart

        Lol, Frank. I enjoyed your very…frank opinion. ;)

  • ryan rodgers

    Thanks for the response B/R. This makes me personally feel like the management at B/R is willing to take accountability and deal with matters that shine B/R in a negative light.

  • Roberto

    I would like to congratulate Bleacher Report for owning up to its mistake. It is hoped that we are able to put this unfortunate incident behind us and continue with what we do the best which is promoting sports via our writings.

    It would not be a bad idea for writers to periodically review the dos and donts of Bleacher Report.

  • Randolph

    Taking ownership of this unfortunate incident is the right thing to do. What’s really important is what will be done to prevent something like this happening again. It looks like actions are taking place to avoid something like this from happening again. There’s sufficient blame to go around for the article even getting posted as some people dropped the ball.

    Thank you Bleacher Report for standing up and shouldering the blame. I sense they will take the right steps to seal the editorial holes.

  • Shehryar

    Mistakes happen and you were right in pointing it out rather than shooing up the matter. Hats off to the BR team!

  • Nick Caron

    Thank you for making this post, Brian. I think it’s important that Bleacher Report stays a legitimate source for SPORTS news and I think taking responsibility for things that were out of line is the best way to do it.

    I’m proud to be a part of the Bleacher Report writing team.

  • Gary M. Thomas

    Good response & reaction to an unfortunate mistake. Well in.

  • davy jones

    This is the biggest problem with Bleacher Report. Somebody writes a decent article and they get pushed over for a sensational article.

    This is entirely Bleach Reports fault for allowing crappy sensational articles to be published while good articles get thrown on the back burner.

  • Ryan Bournigal

    I did not see the article but I am glad to see that B/R actually owns up to the mistakes of its writers, even if it is not directly the website’s fault.

  • Colby

    Our prayers and thoughts go with the people of Japan. As an FC for Bleacherreport, I have gained a lot more respect for the responsibility the website and those who run it have taken with this unfortunate event. While I myself didn’t see the story, it is not right in anybody’s place to talk about such a catastrophe and correlate to events that are the last things on anybody’s mind, or even offends or jabs at the event, even if that was not the intention.

    I greatly appreciate B/R, the opportunity it gives, and again our prayers go out to the nation of Japan and its residents.

  • Jr Moe

    Brian though I did not see the item. I am pleased that leadership at Bleacher highest level acknowledged and demonstrated some accountability. And has raised awareness and support for the plight and tragedy for the people of Japan. I extend my prayers and best wishes for the people of Japan.

  • chris

    he was out of line for that

  • Jo-Ryan Salazar

    You know, I did not realize this happened until I got the message on my e-mail, but I believe you guys made the right decision and you should be commended.

  • Ahmad Rashad

    Well I’m glad B/R owned up to the mistake instead of trying to sugarcoat it.

  • Matt

    I’m now actually interested in what the piece said. I understand that it should not have been posted, but I would’ve wanted to read it and see.

    I’m in no way trying to be disrespectful, I understand the tragedy that has occurred across the globe in Japan and surrounding areas, etc. and my sympathies to the people, families and all there. Though I’m still curious.

    Nice response to the posted article. However I’m not sure punishing the poster is the right thing to do. I’d give the poster a chance for a public apology if they so choose. But that choice is not mine to make and I understand the need to protect the individual.

    • Peter Barber

      Basically, the piece mentioned the Pacific tsunami disaster by name in the title of the post, then went on to talk about other sporting “disasters” like the time some games got snowed out in Cleveland. It was one of the most amazingly offensive things I’ve ever read. And an editor floated it to the front page for I’d assume thousands of people to see.

    • lemonverbena

      Screenshot here:

      • Peter Barber

        And that isn’t even the original title of the article. The original title of the article was something to the effect of “Pacific Coast Tsunami: The Worst Natural Disasters in Sports”. With the first three words obviously intended to drive search engine optimization.

        • Peter Barber

          Check that, the original title of the article was “Japan Quake and Tsunami: The Worst Natural Disasters In Sports History”. The editor just tried to make it a little less obvious by removing those first few popular search terms at the time before moving it to the front page. I’m looking at a copy of it I saved.

  • Peter Barber

    Personally, after reading that entry the only way I would personally be satisfied with the efforts to make restitution is if the editor who floated that entry to the front page lost his or her job. There is no excuse for such a blatant attempt to drive page hits from all the people googling the disaster. As much as you might say their intentions were pure, it sure didn’t seem that way when the first three words of the title were originally something everyone and their mother was typing into google at the time. You can try to play it off as poor judgement and coincidence but I read that entry right as it was posted and I do not buy that excuse one bit.

    If you have a brain in your head you will take this very seriously and take serious measures to make amends, because this could have implications for the integrity of online media in general, that’s just how offensive it was. And one of your editors actually thought this would be okay, and as of this moment it sure looks like part of the motivation for that decision was to make money.

    • Peter Barber

      And since we know search engines love Bleacher Report, I am guessing a pretty significant number of people had it show up in their search queries.

    • Peter Barber

      Also I hope that’s a pretty big check. You guys messed up big time here and you have been asking for trouble for a while now with your relatively low editorial standards. You clearly need to improve the safeguards for journalistic professionalism here in general considering this is such a well-travelled and often cited site, whether or not it deserves to be.

      • Ashleigh Elizabeth Hart

        Peter, you MUST have many more things in your life to worry about than the job of another person who wrote an article that you didn’t find appropriate. Would you honestly feel satisfied if you helped in having this person fired when you know nothing else about them or what they were thinking when they wrote the piece? Perhaps he felt that he could help people feel a little better during a time of great stress, regretted his decision later, or is in need of serious sensitivity training. I find you to be insensitive to another human being and a company based in a country that is supposed to value freedom of expression and not judge other people for saying what they please. As the old cliche says, we all make mistakes and I honestly hope that you are never fired for yours.


        Ashleigh E. Hart

        • Peter Barber

          There are different levels of mistakes people make. If this were just a matter of an author making an unfortunate mistake and an editor making his/her own mistake in deciding that unfortunate mistake should go to the front page I probably would be fine with this apology. That is how they would like to categorize it, but that is not all of what happened. There is a reason the writer chose that topic and there’s a reason the editor pushed it to the front page and they were doing it because it was part of their monitor google traffic and tailor stories to drive visitors to this site by writing headlines with words a lot of people are entering into google. A disaster was happening and there would be enormous google traffic for words like “Japan Earthquake” or “Tsunami” or “Natural Disasters” as people wanted to find out. And this story did drive a lot of traffic here and make the site some money. So, y’know, it’s pretty offensive to make money off of a natural disaster, I really don’t think I’m being unreasonable in asking for full acknowledgement at LEAST in the apology handed down by the C.E.O. and at LEAST to know that the donation is large enough to include the extra money made.

          The point is, they have been writing about stories loosely related to sports based on google traffic for a while now in similar efforts to drive traffic to this site and make money. And those efforts led to what happened shortly after the tsunami that night. There was money being made off of it, so I think in the interest of restitution they should at least have to donate the equivalent of what they made from the extra site traffic. I guess to some degree these people were just doing their jobs that led to this unfortunate incident, not that they realized what they were doing this time necessarily and why it was wrong until it was too late. For that error I can forgive them, I’m not saying they are bad people necessarily, but there have to be changes in the way this site is run because there is accountability for this that goes directly to the policies handed down from the people in charge, and the way this site makes money, and those have to be acknowledged for them to fully accept responsibility for what happened, in my opinion. You are welcome to disagree

  • big ROC, Stockton CA

    Did you guys put him on probation or ban him from b/r?

  • Tim

    Brian, as a contributor who was recently rejected in your staff”s efforts to “weed-out” substandard writers, I had sent an e-mail to your staff asking what the mission of “Bleacher Report” had become. Ironically, I sent the e-mail yesterday.
    Understandably, since I had been previously published, I was upset and confused by the rejection, so I reexamined your content. And that reexamination prompted the mission query.
    As someone so eloquently pointed out, and in truth, your own writer’s quidelines establish that SEO is the goal. So, when a writer latches on to THE HOTTEST topis in the Google Search world, YOU should not be surprised. You, as CEO owned the “mistake” by this writer, but who set SEO as goal? You did. You own the mission.

    • Peter Barber

      Exactly. This is partly why I do not find the apology alone to be sufficient. They were asking for this to happen through their own greed and complete lack of journalistic standards for some time now. It’s like saying “Oh don’t blame me, I just encouraged them to do whatever it takes to get Bleacher Report to show up in search queries on google, I didn’t know that would lead to abuses.” I call bs on that. They could’ve known it would and they should’ve known it would but they did not care because they were making money off of it. And they were making money by making sure even the worst articles showed up at the top of google search queries. Well this is a direct result of that practice here today, and it was done in one of the most horrifying articles I’ve read in media.

      It is important to remember to keep your soul with you at all times when writing an article or running a company.

      • Peter Barber

        People have been doing this whole media thing for a while now, turns out when you don’t have standards for writing and editing bad things happen. A shocking revelation, I know.

      • davy jones

        and herein lies the problem with Bleacher Report.

        for every good article, you get an article that is just looking to make a slash. in the end, the good article gets thrown to the side while the crappy but slashy looking article gets converted to gold.

  • lemonverbena

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  • jeremy

    And how much was BR paying that writer? What were his qualifications? Nothing and Nothing. BR only makes money, and pays its writers nothing. Everybody knows that. Its like the Jerry Springer of sports articles.How you can you Punish the writer? To not let him write here?? Whippedy dee!!

  • Andrew Mahlmann

    Everyone at B/R seems to have handled this situation nobly. I’m especially glad the managers and editors are taking responsibility and acknowledging their accountability.

    • Peter Barber

      They can acknowledge their accountability by changing their ridiculous business model that led to this. This apology, like many of the articles at Bleacher Report, is just words, abuse this egregious requires action.

  • Peter Barber

    Alright I’m done. I hope you feel sufficiently bad enough about this now to take serious steps to improve your product, because right this minute your product is a stain on the entire industry. This is not the fault of some amateur schmuck from the University of Georgia or some nameless editor. Policies you put in place to drive traffic here led to this and you owe it to your readers to not let it ever happen again.

    • J Carl Hatfield

      Agreed. I seem to only come here as a last resort to what is slumming it up these days. Today, they did the best they could to prove what they are: A bunch of boys that were on the chess team, working harder to get website hits rather than have journalistic integrity. Good job B/R. Now shut down. I love blogs, but you represent the worst of them. Sell your domain and then give the proceeds to the Red Cross. Everyone will win.

    • Patrick Harrel

      I just have one question for you… Do you have nothing better to do than launching into attacks against a website because 2 or 3 people screwed up this morning and posted an article that should not have made it through? The company is admitting it was a mistake and is encouraging donations, what more do you want? You should chill out a bit.

      • tarheel56

        I am with Patrick. B/R is trying to make amends for a mistake and supporting the people who have been devastated by this and all some people can do is write about their own agendas. Sad.

      • Peter Barber

        Nope I was all done with my better things to do and had plenty of time to call a spade a spade. This isn’t just 2 or 3 people who screwed up this morning, this is 2 or 3 people who I think thought they were doing their jobs by fashioning an article that show up in as many search queries as possible. If anyone had seen the original article before it was edited you would see how transparent their attempt to drive search engine optimization was before the title was edited for the front page. They just happened to do it about a topic that was horribly inappropriate this time. Therefore I think a lot of the responsibility for this lies with the company itself and their business practices regarding SEO, which Mr. Grey has to this point not apologized for. And until he does, I think it’s a hollow apology. Don’t just try to play it off like it’s some isolated incident when it’s not.

        • davy jones

          completely agree.

        • Frank

          Peter Barber is correct. The fact that this page still is up is a disgrace in itself. Bleacher Report will profit from this post being up here and from the visits to the site, because they will sell advertising accordingly.

      • Ashleigh Elizabeth Hart

        Thank you, Patrick, for actually using your brain to form your own opinion just when I thought my head was going to explode from reading the comments of “deeply offended” people for what seemed like hours. :)

  • Celeste Winchester

    Nice response , my thoughts and prayers are with the people in Japan.

  • George C. Roundtree

    EXCELLENT! Now perhaps CEO GREY should clean up the racist, biased, demeaning and degrading articles written by racist, biased, demeaning and degrading so-called writers on B/R, pertaining to CAM NEWTON and Auburn University. These numerous distasteful articles present personal overtly racial overtones and should not be allowed on B/R. I adjure CEO GREY to put a stop to it just as he took on the JAPAN issue. From a die-hard, life-long FLORIDA A & M RATTLER and FLORIDA GATOR FAN. Thanking you in advance.

    • CJ Bas

      Well over half of the articles appearing onthe Auburn page for over 6 months nowhave been noting but racist slurs, lies, personal attacks, and unfounded slurs against Auburn University and Cameron Newton. Yet BR encourages such garbage. Every day their Auburn page is filled with the same filth coming from those same writers posting responses to other articles. BR has made absolutely no attempt to cmean up their act and has shown no desire to ever do so. The reason? Because those articles generate hits, which result in ad sales. BR’s feigned sensitivity now is nothing more than hyposricy on their part. Journalistic integrity is not what they’re after. Yellow journalism is.

  • Evan

    Glad to see such a classy response from the management. Hopefully this is the first step in cleaning up some of the content on Bleacher Report.

  • tarheel56

    Very classy on B/R’s part. Sometimes those things happen and get through. My sister lives on the coast in Southern California and I heard after the tsunami hit Hawaii that Cali was next. Thankfully she and her family were okay. Again, thanks for the apology but I am even more grateful for your concern shown to the people this tragedy has affected. Carry on, you guys are awesome!

  • Bo

    I appreciate B/R’s response to this situation. A couple of people made a mistake and instead of singling out those people, the entire site is accepting responsibility.

    God bless those affected by the tragedy.

  • Jared

    Good response, but it does again show how bad some of these writers are, BR is well respected but they need to look at some of their writers because some of them are a joke.

  • Chinmay

    This is a really responsible response. BR has once again shown why it is one of the better run sites.

  • Dan H.

    I’ve been a BR FC since September of last year. Since that time, I can attest to the honest efforts that BR has taken and is currently taking to improve their editorial content and overall standing among the sports outlets on the web.

    Behind the scenes, they’ve been great in encouraging thoughtful analysis and improving the work of all featured writers.

    Unfortunately, a few people messed up today and allowed a tasteless article to yield major traffic. And yet, it’s hard to blame an entire collective group for the mistakes of a few people. But BR published a quick and timely response anyways, as well as sending out a personal email to every single featured columnist, apologizing for the post.

    And I quote: “Today’s piece also undermined the efforts of you, our talented writer base. You are striving every day to generate thoughtful commentary on the sports world. The major point of emphasis for Bleacher Report in 2011 is to lift the quality of the writing across the site…I want to apologize to our entire writing community for today’s incident. The responsibility lies within the Bleacher Report editorial team and we’re taking the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

    For every poor post, there are ten others that offer thoughtful opinion and analysis. That ratio is growing every day.

    I’d like to applaud and thank BR for the efforts not only that they’ve made today, but the efforts that they have been making and will continue to make in the future.

  • Brian

    Give the kid a break. It was a bad decision, haven’t we all made them in our lives? At the end of the day the real issue in this country, people need to thicken their skin. There are millions of people in our country helped by countless organizations. Go volunteer your time to help someone rather then waste your energy exploited some poor kid because he wrote something “offensive” move on people.

    • Ashleigh Elizabeth Hart

      Bravo! We have an American!

  • Joe

    I did not see the piece either, but I applaud you for admitting a fault. Thank you.

  • Sharyn Fitzpatrick

    A classy move by a well-respected CEO . Great decision, Brian. Getting ahead of the story was the right move to make. Keep up the great job.

  • Gee

    Accountability! Very refreshing.

  • Steven Elonich

    It’s pretty respectable that you immediately own up to a mistake. Kudos for that.

  • Dan Hanzus

    Pay your writers. Build a staff that you trust. Otherwise this kind of business will continue.

  • Darrell Horwitx

    I didn’t have a chance to read the article, but I’m glad BR owned up to it.

    It’s a shame what happened in Japan, and I’m sure all of our hearts go out to them.

    This does unfortunately highlight what is wrong with BR. I so often see garbage or lists on the front page, and it gets tiresome after a while. We all know why the writers are doing it; because it gets the headlines.

    There are plenty of people writing for BR, including myself, who don’t make the front page often enough, yet our writing is so superior to the articles that do.

    I think BR needs to evaluate what is important to grow the site. I would hope the choice would be quality writing.

  • Guillermo

    The sad thing about all this is that I knew this was going to happen. Last night when I heard about the earthquake, I did a Google search on it and a B/R article came up detailing the quake with no correlation to sports. That was taken down immediately.

    When I woke up this morning, I had a bad feeling that someone would write a B/R article using the earthquake as part of the headline. They did and we find this mess. The sad thing about this whole mess is that I expected B/R to do something like this because that’s what they’ve done for so long.

    There are three parties at fault.

    1- The writer who felt that during a natural disaster, an irrelevant slideshow was necessary.
    2- The editor that changed the headline to fit the SEO guidelines as well as making it front page material.
    3- B/R for teaching writers to write about anything that’s a trendy topic and try to tie it with sports. That kind of mindset doesn’t make for good journalism. When site traffic becomes more important than quality, that’s what makes B/R so hard to gain credibility.

    It’s a mistake that I am glad B/R is owning up, but words mean nothing until actual actions are taken. Until the site stops trying to make quantity (overloading content) over quality their top priority, things like this will continue to happen.

    • davy jones

      well spoken!!!

      BR has some talented writers, but unfortunately, they get lost with writers who care more about views and expsoure than actual content itself.

  • Pingback: Prayers of hope for the people affected by the earthquake in Japan | Write a blog on a log, Sam I am

  • davy jones

    love this part:

    “While the author did not intend to be insensitive to the terrible event in Japan”

    ummmm, yes he did, because that’s what BR teaches. Write crap that will get a buzz going, write good stuff, yeah, no thanks.

    maybe this can lead to weeding out some of the bad writers on BR.

  • Linus

    I did not notice the article. But I am glad you pulled up the offending article and brought it to the community’s attention.

  • Ashleigh Elizabeth Hart

    My opinion my be considered “extremely insensitive” but I don’t feel that you needed to issue an apology and, while the donation to the Red Cross was very kind, it devalues your words in my opinion. It seems like you feel that your readers can be “paid off” in order to quickly forget their possible feelings of disgust regarding a piece that your editor chose to print. I find that to be more offensive than the writing itself. Furthermore, what ever happened to freedom of speech? I sincerely hope that the author of this article, insensitive or not, will not be fired for his actions. It is an insult to all of the men and women who died for our freedom of expression to punish an American for saying what he or she pleases. There is far too much emphasis on being politically correct and not enough on letting things that bother you roll off your shoulders or, even better, simply looking away when you start to read something that you find offensive rather than getting worked up about it and writing to the editor. Your comments on the article have probably just called even more attention to it than leaving it as it was or simply deleting it altogether. I would admire a company who supported their employees decisions and/or made a donation to a cause without having to issue a statement much more than one who gives their readers an eye-roll-inducing apology and bribe money.

    Just my opinon…

    -Ashleigh E. Hart

  • Tom Johnstone

    Inexcusable! That along with the fact that you publish so much nonsense. A perfect example is that pitifull reporter that tried to manufacture a story that Peyton could be traded to the jets. Tour lack of editorial control is why I will never read any of your page fillers again. I will also write every manufacturer that advertise with you and let them know they are losing me as a consumer.

  • Anonymous

    You know, there’s a reason I stopped posting with Bleacher Report I long time ago.

    It’s because you and everything you do is abhorrent.

  • MJTuc…

    This is by far one of the most DOUCHE BAG Run Sport Websites I’ve ever experienced. You would need to be mentally retarded not to detect the one sided bias BS that goes on.

    I tried to stomach the MLB coverage for the entire 2011 season and finally couldn’t hold back the puke….

    Brian Grey; your over paid and you should kill yourself.