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Oct 21 / Joel Cordes

Internship Insider: Copy editors, ledes & keywords

Here are some highlights from this week’s mailbag at the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship program.

Am I allowed to change a headline back after a copy editor alters it?

1. Oftentimes, if your article has reached the front/team page, the headline “change” is just a cosmetic one. Your original headline will show up on the article itself and via search engines. However, the cosmetic headline has been streamlined for B/R site real estate and is unchangeable.

2. Our copy editors have your best interests in mind.  Sometimes they try to clean up or maximize the searchability of your article by making an actual headline change.  It’s OK to reverse a copy editor’s changes in certain cases; at the end of the day, it’s your work. Be ready to support your choice, though.

I’m still struggling with my ledes.  Can you help?

Resist the temptation of starting your story by telling readers what time of year it is or what big event is about to happen. Don’t feel like you have to justify what you’re going to talk about. Just start talking about it. If you feel like readers need a little background information or they’ll be lost, don’t lead with the background information. Lead with what’s new, with what your article is about. Every single word in your lede should be pulling its weight, accomplishing something.

Don’t Forget:

- Looking for the hottest article ideas and ways to make your own work more searchable (i.e. get reads)?  Always be sure to check with B/R’s hot keyword database for any applicable keywords.

- Don’t forget to re-read your piece before publishing. Paste your work into Word for a quick spell check. That way you’ll catch obvious typos and missing/unnecessary spaces. If you’re pressed for time, publish the work first and then immediately re-read the piece and make changes accordingly.

- Never begin a headline with just the league name (ex. “NHL:” or “NFL:”) without anything else before the colon.

- Anyone can write that Player X is better than Player Y. The reason your slideshow is different is because of your opinions. Why do you think X is better than Y?

Joel Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Internship Program Feedback Editor. Each week (along with contributor Greg Pearl) he includes some hints, tips and answers in an email to those participating in the B/R Sports Writing Internship, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.