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Nov 18 / Joel Cordes

Internship Insider: “Office Hours” insight

Here are some highlights from this week’s mailbag at the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship program. This week’s questions/answers were mostly generated from one-on-one and group discussions at the B/R “Office Hours” writers meet-up in Chicago on Wednesday!

What are the benefits from joining the B/R Sportswriting Internship, even if I’m already a Featured Columnist?

The B/R Internship not only helps new writers, but also those who are already established Featured Columnists. Using both long term and time-oriented “newsroom” assignments, our team gives you assignments on stories that you want to write about, while also challenging you to stretch outside of your comfort zone.

You will receive VERY detailed feedback on your articles from a variety of objective and experienced observers. You’ll learn the insider secrets of crafting a searchable headline, successfully using keywords, writing an online-specific lede, building a complete editorial column, and much more. You’ll further build your brand and readership, network with other up-and-coming writers, and walk out with a valuable portfolio and references. 

How can I gain reads on an article that didn’t turn out as well as I thought it would?

If you’re confident that you maximized SEO in your headline, wrote an effective lede, crafted a complete/entertaining/forward-thinking story and exhibited professional polish, then you’ve written a quality article. That goes beyond the read count. Doing so consistently will give you the long term results you’re looking for. 

In the short-term, go back to that particular article. Can you add more full keywords and rework the lede or the headline? Don’t be afraid to occasionally hyperlink back to such articles when a meaningful connection exists with something new you’ve written: You’ll generate after-the-fact reads that way.

When and how can I get my work considered for newsletter placement?

Work to establish a reputation of consistent quality and communication. Using full keywords, adhering to the B/R Stylebook, crafting unique angles, maintaining consistent communication with editors (as well as readers) and writing clear, specific ledes can help your work see plenty of newsletter consideration rather quickly.   

Don’t Forget:

- Hanging statements are those assertions you make without actually backing them up using any evidence, logic or analysis. (i.e. “he’s a really good player” – or – “they’re going to win this game.”)

These test credibility in a negative way. Give your readers something they can’t get anywhere else: your opinions! Assume they clicked on your piece for unique insight. Don’t just regurgitate something they have already seen. Readers need a reason to believe you. “I feel” statements only work if you have established clout. The only way you’ll do that is by making complete arguments for years to come. 

- You MUST cite a specific source or link to a source when discussing quotes or paraphrases.

- Why not pick a side in your headline? Web readers want to see you take a side and fight for it, which means leave out the waffling words like “could,” “may,” “might” or “can.” Be definitive with “will,” “should,” “won’t” and “can’t.”

Joel C. 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.

  • Kelly Scaletta

    Very helpful! Thanks Joel!

  • Michael Schottey

    Great stuff here Joel, I preach this sorta stuff all the time (as you well know.) Surprising how many writers confuse “balanced” (which is good reporting) with “waffling” (which is both bad and annoying to readers).

    Take a stance; defend it; support it.