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Aug 31 / Thomas Attal

Research, engagement and learning: Lessons from the B/R internship

For the Love of the Page is a series in which Bleacher Report Sportswriting Interns explain why they write and what they’ve learned.

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My B/R Sportswriting Internship is only two weeks old, and I’ve already learned more than I thought I would in the entire program.

Writing on a deadline has allowed me to improve my organization and researching skills. Correctly organizing my time is crucial, as I need to invest as much time as possible into each article to put forth my best work. The research, first draft, revisions, proofreading, follow-up with reader comments … they all deserve a fair share of attention.

Research is the single most important aspect of writing for a major website. B/R readers are knowledgeable and eagle-eyed. If you make a mistake, it will likely be spotted.

As this blog’s King Kaufman says, “Your integrity and credibility are finite resources, and once you squander them, they’re gone for good.” The fear of comment-section wrath has taught me the importance of properly researching every subject, no matter how familiar I think I am.

Whether it’s uncovering the facts that set up the article’s story or understanding the sports and athletes involved, you can’t truly understand a topic until you understand its history and central figures.

Then I double-check everything.

I have found research is best done before starting my articles. By doing this, I can totally focus on my writing as opposed to content issues like story angle or the narrative structure. That also means I can have an outline prepared before sitting down to type.

Besides streamlining my research habits, I’m getting firsthand experience taking assignments—deadline and on-call—working with editors and continuing the conversation with readers. It’s all preparing me for a professional career.

You pay for your mistakes, and you gain from your successes. Any mistake you make stays with you since it was made on such a big stage, so the learning curve is huge. Things you do well are highlighted, though, which motivates me in the day-to-day.

The excitement of seeing my work on the third-most-visited sports media site in the nation is a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It makes waking up early to write both a pleasure and a desire, and it makes watching games more exciting. Sharing my opinion with a massive reader base drives me to become more involved in games I may have passively watched before. Now I watch sports and try to foster opinions on everything that is happening. It also forces me to concentrate on the storylines in the game as much as the result.

This internship has pushed me to a place I didn’t think I could be. It makes me proud of what I do and want to do more.

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Thomas Attal is a B/R Contributor enrolled in the Sportswriting Internship

  • RamblingBeachCat

    Someone needs to tell Chris Chase to read this article.