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Apr 24 / King Kaufman

NFL Draft Week review: Rumors, speculation, verifying stories

NFL Draft Week is the biggest traffic week of the year for Bleacher Report. That’s right, bigger than the Super Bowl. The draft begins Thursday, so rumors and speculation are flying around like crazy, and it’s only going to get crazier as the big day approaches.

So it’s a good time to brush up on how to deal with rumors and speculation in your writing. We’ll call it a quarterly review.

Reading Copy Chief Dan Bonato’s Textbook entry, Attribution, citing sources and avoiding plagiarism and my post on rumor vs. speculation every three months or so is probably a good idea.
Here’s a quick recap of the major points you’ll find there, but do go read them:

  • When you repeat a rumor, source it. Say where it’s coming from and provide a link.
  • Do not repeat unsourced rumors or speculation. See this cautionary tale about a writer making up stories, tweeting them and watching them spread to reputable outlets online.
  • Avoid using unverifiable phrases. Bleacher Report does not use anonymous or personal sources, so “sources say” or “someone close to the situation told me” won’t fly.
  • Do not confuse rumor with speculation. If someone, including you, is arguing that Team A trading Player B to Team C for its pick and then drafting Player D with that pick would be a good move, or that it would be logical for Team A to be shopping Player B, that’s fine. That’s speculation. But a “rumor,” for our purposes at Bleacher Report, is a news story that cites sources, even anonymous ones if they’re cited by a reputable outlet, one with professional editing standards. We don’t start rumors.
  • Be extra clear when differentiating between fact, verifiable rumor and mere speculation. Simple example: “Reporter X at Source Y is reporting that Player Z could soon be on the move.”
  • When news is moving fast, don’t get caught in the vortex. It’s possible to be both fast and right: Only report what you know to be true, and tell your audience how you know it.

Familiarize yourself with B/R’s Attribution Guidelines, and if you still have questions, ask your editor or team leader, ask in the comments here or drop me a line.

  • Kay Jennings

    Thanks for this clarification, King. I can’t stand it when I read unsubstantiated rumors on our pages. Credibility and insightful, original writing are the only things that will move B/R forward.