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.
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.
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