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Oct 1 / Greg Pearl

B/R’s new Writer Evaluation Team: What it is and what it can do for you

All serious writers want all the guidance they can get. At B/R, we’ve spent seven years obliging with everything from on-site training materials to personalized feedback from copy editors—but we’ve never had a formal process for evaluating and educating B/R writers.

Until today.

Our new Writer Evaluation Team’s job is to help Featured Columnists build on strengths, firm up weaknesses and make progress toward their goals. Those objectives are carried over from a less formal evaluation initiative we launched in the first half of 2012—one that provided hundreds of FCs with feedback and constructive advice.

Based on the results of a recent survey, it was obvious that we had a good thing going. But it was also obvious that there was a lot we could be doing better, and the new WE Team reflects a company-wide commitment to getting it right.

So what exactly does “right” mean?

Our new evaluation criteria are more objective than those we were working with earlier in the year, which means that our new evaluation scores will contain more precise and specific information. More importantly, our new Progress Reports are more thorough than the messages we were sending out previously, which means every evaluated writer will know exactly where he or she stands with respect to the standards of the FC Program.

The idea is to help folks understand exactly what they have to do to meet expectations and climb the ranks—and thus to give every FC a fair shot at long-term success.

New Featured Columnists will receive their first Progress Reports at the end of their trial period. After that, they’ll receive Progress Reports two or three times a year, containing advice for improving analysis, writing mechanics and presentation skills. The Progress Report criteria will also be factored in hiring decisions for paid FC positions, which means that anyone with hopes of a long-term B/R career should be extra attentive to the results of his or her reviews.

Speaking of extra attentiveness …

For all its thoroughness, the new evaluation process is really meant to be the beginning of the conversation, not the end. Along those lines, every Progress Report invites writers to engage their evaluators in one-on-one dialogue, and we hope that folks will take us at our word, because one-on-one dialogue will always be the best way to learn and the best way to teach.

You’re here because you want to maximize your potential as a sportswriter. If there’s any moral of my own Bleacher Report experience—first as a copy editing intern, then as a paid copy editor, then as a feedback editor for the Sportswriting Intern Program, now as the network’s first Writer Evaluation Coordinator—it’s that you can’t get better at what you do without questioning how you do it.

In the years ahead, I hope to help all of you think long and hard about the quality of your own work, with the goal of giving every B/R writer the best possible chance to shine on the web’s most dynamic platform.

* * *

Greg Pearl is Bleacher Report’s Writer Evaluation Coordinator. Follow him on Twitter @greg_pearl



  • Scott Carasik

    This is an excellent addition to the site.

    • Greg Pearl

      As a writing internship grad, I’m sure feedback is old hat for you, Scott. Here’s to continuing the journey.

      • Scott Carasik

        Oh most definitely. it’s why I’m glad this is going to continue for my role as an FC.

  • Kelly Scaletta

    This is incredibly helpful. My evaluation did me a ton of good.

    • Greg Pearl

      Great news, Kelly. And thanks again for being our vet guinea pig. You were an excellent sport!

  • Peter Owen

    Always great to see more feedback in my inbox. When can we expect the first report?

    • Greg Pearl

      My unscientific response is soon, Peter. I can definitely promise one to you by the end of the year.

  • Ken Kraetzer

    Good initiative, you need to consider dipping down below “featured columist level” and try to work with those of us who don’t write about the big teams but send in articles week after week.

    • Greg Pearl

      Consider the motion considered, Ken. You know us Bleacher Creatures…we’re always looking forward!

  • Jesse Reed

    Great news for B/R and its writers. Can I schedule an evaluation? It’s been a while since I’ve gotten any real feedback, and I don’t want to slip.

    • Greg Pearl

      No need to make an appointment, Jesse. I’ll be making house calls for the foreseeable future.

  • Chris Mueller

    This is great. I am someone with no journalism eductaion or experience outside my time at B/R so it will be great to get some feedback about what I need to improve. Studying business in school was great but it did not help me too much with what I want to do here. Is there any way to know when we will be getting our Progress Reports?

    • Greg Pearl

      I hear you, Chris. We’re hoping this program is the first of many steps in helping B/R FCs write more and write better.

      To answer your question regarding the timeline…We’ll be aiming to evaluate every FC once a quarter. The evaluation schedule is currently in flux, though, so it’s hard to say when your particular evaluation will be sent.

      I should note that our progress will be a bit on the slow side while we get the system up and running, but that we plan to hit top speed within a month or two. That said, I’m certainly grateful for your patience (as well as the patience of any writer who doesn’t receive a Progress Report right off the bat). Rest assured, no FC will be left behind.

  • Steven Slivka

    Hey Greg. I’ve loved my time as a FC, and my writing has greatly improved since the time that i was an intern. I was actually inquiring how to get feedback, funny enough. I’ve been a FC for about 6 weeks now and haven’t gotten any feedback yet.

    • Greg Pearl

      Good timing, Steven, and good to hear from you again. As long as you remain an FC, you’ll receive feedback once a quarter. As I mentioned to Chris M. below, though, the evaluation schedule is currently in flux, so it’s hard to say when you specifically will receive feedback. Thanks for being patient with us as roll this bad boy out!

  • Chris Hummer

    Congrats on the new job Greg! Well deserved, I’m sure your and the team’s advice will be helpful to a lot of people, as it was for the BR interns.

    • Greg Pearl

      Thanks, Chris. Just when you and your fellow intern alumni thought you were done with me ;)

  • Carl Stine

    Great to hear, it will be profitable to get some specific feedback on a regular basis.

    • Greg Pearl

      I couldn’t agree more, Carl. I look forward to working closely with you and your FC brethren.

  • Rc cos

    Does this go for only new FCs? Or can ones who have been around awhile take advantage too?

    • Greg Pearl

      All FCs are included, Rc. From newb to vet, no one will be left behind!

  • Thomas Galicia

    I’m actually waiting for my first evaluation. I’ve been an FC since 2010, yet I didn’t get an evaluation from the initiative that rolled out at the beginning of the year.

    • Greg Pearl

      Thomas, I apologize for any oversight. Our first-of-the-year attempts were a great learning experience for everyone, but needless to say, you will not be overlooked in this process. Thanks for reaching out, and I look forward to working with you!

  • Ben Rosenthal

    This looks great, Greg! I just thought that I’d mention here, editors (like me!) don’t see comments written in the “Editor Feedback” section of articles. If writers want to reach out to editors about an article that’s been edited, the best method is to send a private message or write on our bulletin boards.

    • Greg Pearl

      Good thinkin’, Ben. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Nigel Scott

    Hope it works but I remain a skeptic, thus far responsiveness to feedback on B/R has been abysmal. I’ve long complained in vain about the Editor interface and the fact that edits are often indecipherable given that they’re displayed with HTML markups rather than plain text.

    Additionally, I’ve often responded within the interface to comments made by my editor, seeking more information on edits made etc. but not getting any response in return. I don’t fault the editors, I suspect that they have no idea that I’ve responded to their comment and as such aren’t prompted to return to the Editor interface to respond.

    As for the editing process itself, whenever I return to edit my own work I am warned that the work is that of an FC… there should be some IT override that prevents this pop-up from displaying within the account of the article’s author.

    Additionally, the pop-up warns that edits should be restricted to corrections for grammar, typos and deviations from B/R style. Even so, I frequently have editors making stylistic changes to my articles (“I reworked a couple sentences” etc.) I’m not so arrogant as to think my writing has perfect clarity, but such invasive editing should be the rare exception. If you don’t like my style then write your own article.

    • Greg Pearl

      Thanks for reaching out, Nigel. Just to clarify, the Writer Evaluation Team won’t actually edit your work. Instead, we’ll be focused on providing insight into B/R’s content expectations for Featured Columnists via “Progress Reports.”

      As a longtime B/R copy editor, though, I understand your concerns and would like to invite you to take advantage of our Editing Evaluation form( You might also find Ben Rosenthal’s comment (below) helpful.

      In the meantime, I’ll be working hard to raise expectations—yours and mine—for feedback on B/R sitewide. That’s not to say that a healthy dose of skepticism is a bad thing (on the contrary, doubt makes the world go ’round, right?). So do keep me posted with any future questions or concerns as we all try to get better at what we do.

      • Ben Rosenthal

        Looks like that link on the Editing Evaluation form is currently down.

        • Greg Pearl

          Thanks, for the heads-up, Ben. Darn Disqus and HTML rendering…we should be good to go now.

    • Tim Coughlin

      I can also confirm that a new version of our article history pages has been in the works for a very long time and may finally be close to completion. This new version will allow you to reply to editors on the same page as the feedback they leave you. Stay tuned.

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