Internship Insider: Deadwood, slideshows & intros
Here are some highlights from this week’s mailbag at the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship program.
What type of “deadwood’ do I need to remove from my articles?
Especially early, a phrase like “Instead, let’s just look at …” should throw up a warning flag; if you find yourself writing something along the lines of “With that said,” “Alternatively” or “Without further ado,” chances are you didn’t need to include it. This is the time to be clear, specific and concise. Make every word count. Save digressions, anecdotes and asides for later in the piece. Why not make a bold statement, and set readers up for a strong and informed opinion?
Now do I construct an effective slideshow?
As a general rule, the most successful list slideshows include:
1. A keyword-optimized and reader-attracting headline.
2. An introductory slide that hooks the reader’s attention while explaining the nature of the list.
3. A slide that explains the criteria used in selecting and ranking the candidates.
4. A slide listing the “Honorable Mention” candidates who just missed the cut.
5. Individual slides for each of the candidates who did in fact make the list
6. Each slide containing between 100 and 200 words of text, accompanied by a high-quality image that suits the content of the text.
Any less and you risk giving the reader little reason as to why you feel the way you do.
How do I make a better intro slide?
An intro slide is much the same as your opening page of a term paper. Neither will fly very far with a slow start. State your thesis first. This lede should paraphrase your headline in an intriguing/entertaining way, while including as many full keywords as possible. Then, briefly preview the main points that the actual slides will be tackling (not all of them, but the biggies). Any entertaining scene-setting, backstory, etc. should have some connection to these upcoming points. If it’s just shaky anecdotes, then it’s only filler.
- When it comes to article angle and tone, you’ve got to find a balance of broad and unique. The area of focus should be broad enough to appeal to the casual sports fan, but unique enough to attract the most avid B/R reader.
- I can’t stress enough how important fact checking and proofreading are to a writer’s credibility. If a writer can’t spell “Cris Carter” correctly, why should a reader take seriously what that writer has to say about the NFL? If you want to trust yourself to spell “Ray Rice” correctly, that’s fine. However, if there’s any possibility you might misspell one, look it up. It takes a second to plug the name into Google, which will correct it for you if you have it wrong.
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.