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Oct 5 / King Kaufman

The many ways SF Weekly is wrong about Bleacher Report

You may have read Joe Eskenazi’s hit piece on Bleacher Report in the SF Weekly this week, Top 5 Ways Bleacher Report Rules the World!

It’s a hatchet job, Eskenazi likely to have reached his conclusions before starting his reporting. That reporting did not include a direct attempt to contact me, though I figure prominently in the piece and am ridiculously easy to reach if you have an Internet connection and know a few people in San Francisco media circles.

Eskenazi writes that B/R’s publicity agency told him that those he asked to interview were “not available.” But a good reporter would at least try to reach me directly. He also didn’t talk to some of our most prominent Lead Writers, who might have said things that didn’t fit the anti-B/R narrative.

NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller did say some of those things in a blog post he sent me, unbidden, Wednesday.

Instead Eskenazi quotes Michael Hall, NESN’s director of new media, Vivek Wadhwa, a high-tech entrepreneur who Eskenazi identifies as “a researcher and tech columnist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Washington Post” to make him look like a journalism expert, and various current and former B/R writers and editors, most of them anonymous.

Here are some of the inaccuracies in Eskenazi’s piece:

“A lot of what Bleacher Report has done has been lowest-common-denominator crap, and horrible,” Kaufman admitted to the audience. His task was to alter this perception of the company.

Might as well start with the lead, and with me. Eskenazi quotes from a talk I gave on a panel at Google. Tellingly, he doesn’t link to the video of that talk.

First, I was not hired to “alter this perception of the company.” I was hired to continue efforts that had already begun to improve the quality of the work on the site.

Second, Eskenazi’s quote selection obscures the point I was making. Talking about the “lowest-common denominator crap,” I was referring to the early days of the site, when anyone was allowed to sign up and write.

And while I did talk about how advertisers demanding better quality is “the market speaking,” that was only half of my point:

And the readers, complaining on Twitter, complaining everywhere, complaining in our comments. “This is a crap article. Bleacher Report is terrible.” It was not a decision made by the CEO who got tired of his friends saying at parties, “Boy, Bleacher Report is terrible.” It was a market-based decision to increase the quality.

In other words, contrary to a basic assumption of Eskenazi’s piece, and Wadhwa’s absurd quote about Bleacher Report being responsible for “a dumbing down of the web,” Bleacher Report’s adherence to market principles—the “giving people what they want” that has Eskenazi and others clutching their pearls—led directly to a decision to raise the quality of the content on the site.

The next David Halberstam, Bill Simmons, or A.J. Liebling may well be toiling as an unpaid, lower-level Bleacher Report contributor. But he or she will never rise up the site’s chain of “reputation levels” without garnering pageviews — the currency of success at Bleacher Report.

Page views are not “the currency of success at Bleacher Report.” They are a part of the formula, sure, but page views alone won’t send anyone rising up the chain.

Bleacher Report is a meritocracy, and those who thrive, moving up to Featured Columnist spots and paid positions as writers or editors, are those who write or do video well, meet their deadlines, engage with their readers or viewers, act in a professional manner—and hell yeah, draw a crowd.

Earning a promotion to “chief writer I” earns a writer a free Bleacher Report sweatshirt.

Update: This is not an inaccuracy! I misread. You do indeed get a sweatshirt when you hit Chief Writer I. You don’t get the awesome hoodie until you achieve Featured Columnist II status. My mistake, and I apologize to Eskenazi for having said in this space that something he got right was wrong.

“Within the Bleacher Report community, [medals and badges] are a point of pride,” says one writer. “It’s hard not to feel like you’re getting somewhere if you have a bunch of badges. It makes you want to work your way up to being an all-star journalist. But you’re just working your way up to being an all-star Bleacher Report journalist.”

The dozens of full-time Bleacher Report writers and editors who started out as unpaid members of the Writer Program seem to think being “an all-star Bleacher Report journalist” is a pretty good deal. They are often found writing about that in the Success Story category of this blog. That category also has posts from others who have turned a spot in the Writer Program or the Sportswriting Internship into opportunity elsewhere.

Former B/R writers have gone on to work at ESPN, the Miami Herald,,, the Star-Ledger,, Dime Magazine,, and on and on.

A former editor at the site estimates that, even with continued editorial hiring, at least 90 percent of Bleacher Report’s gargantuan writing roster remains unpaid. Unable to earn actual crumbs, they compete for virtual crumbs. This is increasingly de rigueur for even established writers — and likely the only model today’s young adults have ever known.

First, the virtual crumbs argument: A basic assumption of those who criticize Bleacher Report and other sites that use unpaid writers seems to be that those writers are fools. Writing for no pay? Those people must be stupid.

People don’t do things unless they have to or want to, and nobody has to write for Bleacher Report. It’s not like we’re the only factory in a small town so you have to work for us on our terms or starve. Writing for Bleacher Report is pretty damn voluntary. Nobody’s going to do it unless they feel like they’re getting something out of the deal.

That something might be pay or a chance at pay, which, again, is real, even though not everyone gets there. It also might be the ease of using the platform rather than maintaining the back end of an independent blog. It might be the chance to reach a large audience, the educational resources, the editing and feedback. Maybe it’s the badges, medals and real-life goodies like sweatshirts.

For most, it’s probably some combination of those things. But nobody’s arm is being twisted, Bleacher Report isn’t trying to fool anyone, and we really don’t think our writer base is a bunch of fools.

As for the 90 percent: Wow, an estimate by an anonymous source. That’s the kind of journalism you won’t get from Bleacher Report!

While the percentage of paid contributors to Bleacher Report is relatively low, the vast majority of our unpaid contributors write infrequently, while our paid contributors write a lot. We value our unpaid contributors and work hard to make writing for B/R worth their while, but the content on Bleacher Report that’s created by unpaid writers makes up nowhere close to 90 percent of what appears on the site.

When this writer questioned the length of an assignment, he was told that it was determined by “our computer model.”

I canvassed the staff: Be honest, folks. Has anyone ever said anything like that? Would anyone? Everyone said no. Maybe there’s a liar in the bunch, but since there’s no “computer model” that determines story length, it’s unlikely.

The exemplar of contrarian thinking offered within the site’s curriculum is a Bleacher Report article titled “Why Tom Brady Is the Most Overrated Quarterback in NFL History.”

This piece epitomizes much of what frustrates the site’s detractors. The article’s author, an affable 19-year-old college sophomore named Zayne Grantham, tells us he still thinks Brady is an overrated “system quarterback” who largely succeeds thanks to his team’s capable defenses … But even Grantham doesn’t believe Brady to be history’s most overrated quarterback: “In hindsight, I may not have used that headline. I’ll be one of the first to say he’s one of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever seen.”

And there you have it: Anyone baited into responding to these hyperbolic stories finds themselves debating a non-starter argument with a teenager from Shreveport who doesn’t even buy the premise of his own article.

If Grantham had been assigned that piece about Tom Brady or its headline, Eskenazi would have been extrapolating a company-wide editorial policy from an 18-year-old—the story ran almost a year ago—who simply didn’t know what the policy is. But the fact is, Grantham chose the Tom Brady angle himself to fulfill an assignment in the b/r U training program. He not only came up with the idea of Brady as hugely overrated, he defended it from several angles on an assignment worksheet.

Here are the instructions for the assignment Grantham wrote about Brady for. Nothing in them asks writers to take “hyperbolic” stances or positions they don’t agree with.

The pre-written headlines, adds another high-level writer, are “asserting why someone is the best player when he’s not; why the obviously best player isn’t really the best; why somebody is going to take over in the next year when it’s implausible he would—basically, asserting something that’s unlikely, giving it a good hook, and getting someone to click on it.”

This time with an anonymous writer, Eskenazi is extrapolating a policy from one person’s misunderstanding of the way things work.

Let’s go back to Matt Miller’s blog post.

“I’ve never been handed a headline I couldn’t say ‘no’ to,” Miller writes. “I’ve never been told what my stance was on a player or a team.”

Miller is a star at Bleacher Report, the most-read columnist in the site’s history. Maybe he gets special treatment?

Nope. Other B/R writers chimed in in the comments. “I’ve received assignments where I didn’t agree with the position,” wrote Featured Columnist Kelly Scaletta. “The response was always, ‘Give us a HED that has the same keywords but with a position you agree with.’ They might tell you what to talk about, but they never tell you what to say.”

“I, too, have yet to find an assignment I couldn’t talk to the assignment desk about if I was uncomfortable with it,” wrote another Featured Columnist, Phil Watson. “I’ve been nothing but impressed with the dedication and professionalism of those I’ve encountered at B/R.”

This shouldn’t be surprising, because Bleacher Report writers are expressly instructed not to write stories they don’t believe in. Here’s an excerpt from a Writers’ FAQ by then-Sportswriting Internship Feedback Editor Joel Cordes, now a B/R NBA editor:

I was assigned a topic/angle that I didn’t really believe in, but then I wrote about it anyway … Should I have done that?

Writers should never write things they aren’t comfortable with. If you disagree with a basic assumption of the assignment, let your assigning editor know.

“We never want writers to write things they disagree with,” NFL Deputy Editor Dylan MacNamara says. “Ten out of 10 times that leads to s— work.”

Here’s an excerpt from a separate FAQ, given to sportswriting interns:

Can I Change My Assigned Headline?

We encourage our interns to work with the assigning editor when it comes to adding keywords and tweaking ideas. You’re free to offer suggestions whenever you want. Just make sure that you’re communicating with your editors before publication and that proposed changes are OK’d by them.

“When they started paying me, I began doing 95 percent slideshows,” says former featured columnist Jeff Shull, who spent four years writing for Bleacher Report. “I did 496 articles, so probably over 400 of them are slideshows.”

Again, Eskenazi extrapolates from one writer’s experience, when all that writer had to do was talk to someone.

Collin McCollough, a senior NFL editor, tweeted an objection to Shull’s claim.

“Any writer I’ve worked w/ on site can vouch that’s a CHOICE, discussion,” McCollough wrote. “It’s a totally misleading number, and it’s not representative of author choice. I’ve never refused discussion of best way to write something.”

“I’ll vouch for that,” replied Detroit Lions Featured Columnist Dean Holden in a tweet. “A lot of assignments come through as slideshows, but I have never been told no if I wanted to change it.”

AFC South Lead Writer Nate Dunlevy tweeted the exact same words: “I’ll vouch for that. Only been asked to do 5 slideshows in 6+ months. 4 were on Undrafted rookie free agents right after draft.”

Well, there’s more, but you get the idea.

There’s a great story to be written about Bleacher Report, about the creative destruction it has brought to sports media; about the passion of the sports fans and aspiring writers who are crashing through the gates of an industry that’s still trying to figure out what’s hitting it; about the innovative methods that have driven its explosive growth and turned it from a ridiculed afterthought to a prized acquisition by an industry giant.

A good reporter can find that story. One who’s looking for nothing but villains and idiots will—and did—miss it by a lot.

  • Scott Harris

    Hear hear, King. Great post.

  • Nicholas Moffitt

    I just thought it was ironic the article was split into 5 pages, especially after he spent a good amount of time bashing “slideshows”. Isn’t splitting the pages essentially a slideshow?

    • Scott Carasik

      And people wonder why I do the slideshows that I do. I have more than 4 points so it makes sense to do a slide show. If I have just 3-4 points, I do a standard article. It’s all about making it easier to follow and flow for our readers.

      • – Sebastian P

        Have you ever heard about something called a “list”. I hear they are wonderful, allowing you to make all your points without having to click a mouse button to get to the next point.

        You are basically degrading your readers to children clicking through picture books. Like I said above – don’t try to sugar-coat that slideshows are page impression generators geared towards higher ad revenue.

        If you were only interested to get your points across, you’d just a list. If you were trying to give the reader an easy way to view a dozen images, you’d hand them a lead-in page with thumbnails of all images for them to more easily get to the oney they find interesting.

        By linking bullet-points with images and vice versa, you make people interested in just the images generate a PI for every single image (and again vice versa).

        You aren’t interested in making it easy for the reader to get to the information. You are basically holding the information hostage with the click of a button being the ransom.

        • Scott Carasik

          Yes, I use them as well. But a list of over 5 points, will lead to a 1500 word article. 1500 words on one page gets very cumbersome to read. So I use the slideshow format to make it easier for my readers. I don’t see how it’s any different than a major publication posting an article that goes through multiple pages. In today’s digital age, I’ll throw a picture in for my lists anyway, so why should I be forced to just one form of article?

    • King_Kaufman

      I think splitting pages is actually worse than a slideshow. Like or hate slideshows, they are offering value with each new page. There’s a new image. You might not think that value is greater than the value of being able to read everything on one page, but at least value is being offered. What value is offered by splitting a standard article into 5, or even 2, pages? There’s nothing new on the subsequent pages, no new art or anything. It’s just: “We need pageviews, so you need to click to keep reading. Screw you, readers.”

      I thought that before I came to work at Bleacher Report.

      • – Sebastian P

        The slideshow argument would be true if slideshows weren’t geared toward page impressions in the first place. I could be wrong but the current practice on the internet is to make a slideshow and then tack it on to any article that even remotely fits the slideshows “tags”.

        Instead of illustrating a point, emphasizing something that is mentioned in the article/blog post – for instance when you write about a certain event you give ONE picture of the people in said event – you basically empty a cornucopia of mildly related images over the reader for them to click through.

        Slideshows are basically the “related articles” section just with pictures.

        Pagination could just as well be justified by arguing they are like paragraphs, making for easier reading.

        I don’t agree with either of those points. I want images to be used inline and all text to be on one page. The amount of images is then justified by the amount of text surrounding them.

        Either way, pagination and slideshows are clickbait. Don’t sugar coat that.

        • Mike Schottey

          @Terrorhoof:disqus None of what you wrote applies, in any way, to Bleacher Report. I get what you’re saying and have seen that practice elsewhere, but it doesn’t exist here.

    • Darin Pike

      I would call it hypocritical as opposed to ironic, but that’s just me. I’m not always a fan of slideshows, but at least when they are used at B/R there is a reason for it. Top X lists or keys to a game, etc. are easier to follow under that medium. There was no logic or flow with the split article.

      The fact is, readers love Top X lists. Since when is responding to demand a bad thing? I can’t grasp the vitriol for an entertainment medium searching out what their readers are interested in and then asking their writers to offer their perspective on it.

      • Doug Thonus

        None of those things need to be in a slideshow, and in fact, I think all of them are better when not in a slideshow format. I too like to look over top X list posts, and I vastly, vastly prefer them when not in slide show format so I can see the whole list at once and then judge who I feel is off by a position.

        A slideshow actually makes this vastly more difficult because I have to remember each ranking in my head. It’s not a service to the reader, it’s a pure money grab to get page views. I’m not opposed to that. IT’s a capitalist society, and businesses should do what makes money. If the advertisers are okay with it then it makes tremendous sense.

        However, let’s not confuse “making good business sense” with “helping the reader”. It doesn’t help the reader.

        • King_Kaufman

          If it’s a “money grab,” why does it work? Because people click. Why do people click? Well, there are a couple of possible explanations. One is that they are all idiots and don’t realize what they’re doing. Another is that they disagree with your opinion about slideshows — perfectly valid, but nothing more than one person’s opinion — and actually like them. There’s a guy named Occam who’s got his money on the latter.

          • Doug Thonus

            (first no idea what I did with the arrows there if I voted you up or down, it was unintentional as I clicked one by mistake and my attempts to balance it out seem to have gone awry).

            Anyway, it is absolutely possible that people love slideshows. I have discussed the bleacher report with many people, as I’m a prospective writer possibly moving from my own blog over there, and the common complaint I heard over and over was “they’re going to make you put everything in slideshows”.

            My personal opinion is that people love lists and the slideshows create lists. I think the tremendous SEO, catchy titles, and content all drive success and drive it enough to overcome a choice in format that is more difficult on the reader.

            I don’t think all of the slideshows are bad, many of them fit fairly naturally, but many of them are just articles forced into pagination with a new image.

            Of course it is only my opinion, formed by many discussions on the topic with my peer group over the past week. It very well may not be representative of a typical reader. Maybe typical readers view the extra load time and clicking as a fair trade off for a cleaner separation of ideas.

          • King_Kaufman

            If you’re talking about extra load time, you are betraying that you haven’t looked at B/R’s slideshows. Unlike the slideshows on many sites, B/R’s slideshows don’t reload the whole page every time you click “next.” The text and picture snap right in place. They’re already loaded. Try it.

          • Tim Coughlin

            Also, while we may pitch list/slideshow ideas to writers, we’d never make you or anyone else write a slideshow in order to stay on the site. I’m not on that side of the company, but I know we don’t operate that way.

            When a new writer joins, we typically offer some assignment ideas to get them going. These are just suggestions. If the writer earns a trial to join the FC program, things operate as the FCs in this chain have described. If the writer does not join the FC program, the writer is free to write about anything at any time as long as the submissions meet our Content Standards and Attribution Guidelines:


            That’s it. We have a lot of writers who combine for a lot of slideshows, but that doesn’t mean we force them upon all of our writers. They fit a need in some cases and are thus budgeted in our coverage plans, but qualified writers are welcome to write here without ever touching that article format.

            And King is absolutely right. Our slideshows are designed to work better than anywhere else on the Web. Newspaper websites’ slideshows and SF Weekly’s pagination are cumbersome, but all you have to do here is hit the right arrow key or click the “Next” button and blink. It’s pretty great.

  • Mike Schottey

    This is a fantastic. As a former unpaid writer, editor and now lead writer, I could not believe how factually inaccurate the SF Weekly writer was as he claimed we were the bane of journalism.

    • Jeff Mason

      He’s right though.

      • Mike Schottey

        Your opinion (or his) doesn’t absolve his inaccuracies. “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

  • RamblingBeachCat

    I kept waiting for the part where Eskenazi yelled at all of us to get off his lawn.

  • Kevin McGuire

    When I read the original story I did feel some of the points were valid based on my experience. I did make the decision to abandon my Featured Columnist role for various reasons but I would still recommend Bleacher Report for any aspiring sports writer interested in getting some exposure and feedback. Bleacher Report is moving progressively and that point seems to be missed in the original column. Is Bleacher Report perfect? Of course not, but this is not the B/R of a few years ago. That much is evident.

    • Jeff Mason

      B/R is still terrible, don’t know what you’re talking about. And I can’t imagine how uninformed, unintelligible opinions about blogger speculation that no real writer has reported on in an article can possibly be a step up. (I say blogger because that’s what B/R writers are since most don’t understand journalism in the slightest)

      • Joe Yanarella

        I would love to know your definition of journalism. As someone who has 25 years of print experience and worked in ‘journalism,’ I’ve always thought the idea was to inform and entertain readers.

        These days, many outlets and most print publications (moreso for daily newspapers) spend all their time informing readers of events that have occurred—which most readers already are aware of because of social media, 24-hour-a-day cable news, etc.—and that information is fairly useless to the reader.

        Our emphasis from Day 1 at Bleacher Report has been to entertain readers, to use the existing information that most readers already know about as the jumping off point for conversation, analysis, speculation. We care much more about What Happens Next and What It Means as opposed to What Just Happened. And the idea that until a ‘real writer’ generates an article, a topic can’t be broached is an outdated concept. With the explosion of sports on TV and information readily available, any writer with a strong opinion and a powerful voice is equipped to have a credible take on a subject. The Internet has already broken down those walls.

        If you feel this doesn’t constitute your definition of journalism, I respect your opinion and will agree with you. But I’ll also say that with the evolution of information sharing, any outlet that tries to cling to an outdated form of journalism is doomed to fail and providing no service for their readers.

        I’d rather take my chances trying to evolve the industry and give readers the type of information they’re looking for as opposed to a journalism format from 25 years ago.

        Joe Yanarella
        Bleacher Report

        • Schottey


          That evolution in the industry is incredibly evident more-and-more. USA Today, once proud to be “just the facts” is investing a serious amount of money in opinion people in sports and elsewhere.

, too, spent an absurd amount of money on columnists for this season.

        • Jeff Mason

          This article is about Dale Sveum, the Cubs’ manager, saving his job near the end of the season. The problem is no one ever reported that Sveum’s job was in jeopardy. No other site was talking about Sveum’s job security, because, guess what(!), he was never going to be fired.

          If B/R’s goal is to have its amateur writers who don’t understand some of the basics and most of the intricacies of the sports they are covering create speculative content that has no context with what is being reported, then congratulations, mission accomplished.

          But if B/R’s goal is to create knowledgeable content based on what is being reported and speculating on the options available, then B/R is worlds away from being even close to that standard.

          That’s not “trying to evolve the industry,” that’s embarrassing the world of sports journalism because, for whatever reason, B/R shows up on the first page of Google searches and is advertised on TBS during baseball playoff games. Turner shouldn’t be advertising B/R, they should be hiding it because it really is embarrassing.

          • Scott Carasik

            That also wasn’t an assigned article. The guy who wrote it is a correspondent He isn’t even in the Featured Columnist program and he doesn’t get assignments because of that.

        • Zack

          As a former F/C I do understand there is a debate. Some writers have no idea that this stuff happens, so it sounds absurd when seeing it in print.

          Reality check: B/R is a big company moving at the speed of light and you can not keep an eye on everything; however, these things do happen. Denying that they don’t is just obnoxious.

          There is no room for disagreeing with your assignment editor. You are forced to write subjects that are chosen for you. If you do not comply you are phased out. Actually try having the conversation with your Assignment Editor that you don’t like subject given to you..two weeks in a row.

          You might as well resign now. I could go on and on how the system is developed to keep writers expendable.

          • Scott Carasik

            That’s completely false. I’ve been an FC for almost 10 months now. If I ever have an issue with an assignment, I ask for a new one or I talk to my assigning editor and we work out a different angle. I’ve never had an issue being heard and if you did, then you needed to step up the chain because that’s not what this company is about. Proper Journalism is writing the angle that you agree with as much as it is about accuracy.

        • Steve Callanan

          Seeing your name makes me want to dig out my old Wizard magazines. I have even more confidence kicking off my B/R career knowing an accomplished character such as yourself is at the helm.

      • Darin Pike

        Perhaps it is time that you actually read a few current B/R articles…and maybe share your opinion on journalism.

        What I find odd is the articles reference to B/R writers not being known for “breaking news” so therefore the writers aren’t real journalists. So is that journalism now? The first person to tweet what player has signed with which team is the real journalist?
        I would contend that is merely a reporter. Journalism implies thought, articulation and analysis. What does that signing mean to the person, the team and their competition? How does it affect other teams that were pursing said player? That is what you’ll find at B/R-journalists that are offering opinion and analysis. Sure, there are still some writers that fall short in those areas, but it is fairly easy to find the writers that do offer extreme value for your time.

      • Kevin McGuire

        To say most writers at B/R “don’t understand journalism in the slightest” is a misinformed statement if I have ever seen one.

        I have a degree in journalism, with a concentration in electronic media. I’d like to think I have a pretty solid understanding of the medium, and while I cannot speak for the rest of those who contribute to the site, I would guess they have at least a slight understanding of journalism. But like Joe asks, what is the definition of “journalism?” Not only has the concept evolved over the last 25 years, as Joe points out, but it has changed drastically since I got out of school, seven years ago.

        If you are not changing with the game, or attempting to stay ahead of it, you are doomed for failure and struggles the way some media outlets have experienced. Bleacher Report, in my view, has been one to adapt.

  • Erik Frenz

    This is beautiful. Wish I would have known you were writing it, because I would have contributed my thoughts, but here they are anyway:

    I began with Bleacher Report in the summer of 2009 as an unpaid editing intern. That was by choice. I did some writing for the site in the meantime, which was also unpaid. That was also by choice.

    I was then promoted to the position of Patriots featured columnist by Dylan MacNamara, a position which I willingly accepted, even though it was unpaid. I wrote furiously, and covered just about anything I chose to, and was never force-fed anything.

    I was then promoted to paid featured columnist status, where I earned some upkeep for my troubles. I received assignments from Collin via email, and it became a weekly ritual that I would look over the assignments, go through what I liked and what I didn’t like with Colin, and we would revise it together. This was all by choice.

    After a year as a paid FC, I was given the position of AFC East lead writer, my post to this day where I couldn’t be happier with the topics I cover, which are all by choice (within my division, of course).

    The moral of my story is twofold:

    1. Virtually everything, from the beginning of my time to now, has been by choice. Yes, there are topics we have to cover whether we want to or not—it’s part of being a journalist or a writer or a blogger or whatever you want to call us, and as it is partly my job to cover Tim Tebow, I can tell you that with fervent enthusiasm—but that ultimately, your work is your own, as is your path at Bleacher Report. No one has a leash on you and is forcing you to stay. No one is demanding you write certain stories from certain angles—if they were, I’m sure I would have had at least one person tell me to explain why Tim Tebow should start over Mark Sanchez. I’ve never been told to say that, and because I don’t believe it (yet), I’ve never said it.

    2. Hard work pays off. Where you put in your hard work is up to you, but in my experience, Bleacher Report is just as good a place as any, if not better. Because Bleacher Report is growing, there will only be more opportunities in the future for writers who are working their way up through the program. Mine is just one story of a writer who had never even written about sports before 2009. Now, I am paid to do this full-time. Couldn’t be happier.

    I’d also like to take this time to say that I’m forever indebted to Bleacher Report for helping cultivate me as a writer through the system, by giving me a forum to say whatever ridiculous things are on my mind, and for continually believing in me as a writer.

  • Jeff Chase

    Great post King. It is unfortunate that SFWeekly decided to only reach out — or at least only use — the words of those with nothing great to say.

    No matter where you have worked or contributed, whether it be a summer camp, Best Buy, ESPN or even Google, people are going to have negative things to say if they were not totally satisfied.

    When I started writing for B/R in August of 2011 out of my college apartment, I never knew the impact that it would truly have on my life. I worked hard, took advantage of every opportunity I could (B/R U, the Sportswriting Internship, taking on extra assignments — all of which were absolutely my personal choice) and it paid off. I now sit 10 feet away from King in the B/R offices everyday as the site’s Community Moderator.

    Sure, I did a lot of work that I did not receive compensation for, but look where it got me. I worked hard everyday, and I continued to move up the ranks because I took advantage of every single opportunity I was privileged enough to receive. Not to mention, I just loved having the opportunity to write about my favorite teams and sports!

    But you know what, fact is it is an extremely competitive world (yes, the actual world not just B/R) and you will not get anywhere if you do not work your hardest to go above and beyond. And you know what, I rejected assignment angles left and right and that probably helped in getting me to where I am today because I was actually able to grow a personal relationship with my editors.

    People can continue to listen to the naysayers all they want, and perhaps some of you have already predetermined your stance on this staff and our writers, but fact is you won’t find a more passionate group of people looking to create content for YOU anywhere else on the web.

    - Jeff Chase

    • King_Kaufman

      You sit 10 feet away from me? Which one are you?

      • Jeff Chase

        I’ll keep waving till you find me.

  • Ed Isaacson

    I was asked to write a few posts for B/R as a guest columnist right before this past NBA Draft. When I was approached, I was hesitant because 1) my work isn’t really tailored for a mass audience, and 2) my perception of B/R based on what I had “heard.” After emailing back and forth with one of the editors, I became a little more comfortable with the idea and ultimately contributed 5 posts. While I have not done any work for B/R since, I did come away with a greater appreciation for the people in the organization, as well as B/R itself, and it now makes me look at articles such as the SF Weekly one with a much different eye.

  • Ken Kraetzer has certainly improved its overall quality and timeliness of reporting on the national stories in the two years I have been contributing. We appreciate the opportunity to write about the dedicated people we meet on the West Point football team and the other service academies. Some of us with gray hairs just appreciate the chance to write about the great people we meet in sports, some of the events we have witnessed.

  • Joel Cordes

    Beyond committing many of the same things he accused B/R of doing… Beyond being riddled with the numerous inaccuracies, plot-holes and stumbling blocks already so well-detailed by Matt Miller, King and the commenters to both B/R Blog posts, Eskenazi’s article was a tired argument that barely applied to B/R quite a few years ago. It absolutely doesn’t apply whatsoever today.

    As another one of the “success” stories who started here as an unpaid writer, off-and-on unpaid FC (B/R was ALWAYS very flexible and understanding with my then day-job commitments), paid Internship consultant/editor for 3 years, and now an Assistant NBA Editor, it’s unbelievable the commitment that every level of B/R has for the product we produce and the PEOPLE who are a part of the process. I can cite numerous discussions about “how can we provide even more resources and compensation to our writers?”

    Are we perfect? No. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. Are we extremely self-aware of both our strengths and our weaknesses? One need only listen in on nearly any conversation that happens round here every day.

    The destination is worthwhile, and the journey is extremely difficult. That B/R is climbing the sports media ladder and traveling this journey this quickly understandably attracts some admiration, trepidation and hyperbole. Especially from those who might not see the future of journalism as clearly. Stuff like Eskenazi’s article is good from the standpoint that we once again reevaluate what we do (as we always do constantly anyways), but it also reinforces that we’re already on the right track. Together. As interns, writers, editors, admins, etc.

    As King alluded to, this train is voluntary, and there’s room for everyone here. And it’s rolling forward pretty quickly these days…

  • Moonman

    King has been nothing but cordial to those of us that no longer write here. And I want to thank him for that.

    But you have several people there that are straight up stupid. Some of the assignments thrown my way? Some of the feedback? Jesus Christ. Maybe some of us had a bad time here because we refused to put up with the nonsense we had to endure. Others were willing to take the page views to rise up your cutesy “meritocracy.” Some of us, though, have standards for ourselves.

    I’ll never be the writer some of you are, specifically those in lofty positions. But I won’t sit here and pretend this place was worth my time.

  • Rob Goldberg

    Among all of the false statements made by Eskenazi, this part was true:

    “Bleacher Report employs an entire analytics team to comb through reams of data, determining who wants to read what, and when, at an almost granular level. In this way, the site can determine the ideal times to post certain types of stories — thus meeting a demand that doesn’t yet exist, but will.”

    Of course, I still cannot understand how it is a bad thing. We write about things that people want to read. This keeps people interested. No one tells me what angle to take or how I should feel about a topic, only that it would be wise to cover it.

    Every business works the same way. They do things for the consumer. In this case, the people like the product and keep coming back. No one forces a reader to click on an article.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and hope to keep moving up the ranks of B/R. I know at this company, I will have the opportunity to do that with hard work.

  • Bob Cunningham

    I started writing for B/R way back in May (I think) of 2008. Back when all anyone had to do was sign up. I was around for the contest to become a temp writer for CBS. I was a finalist, but ultimately not picked and was one of the inaugural Eagles FC’s. I gave that up to start my own blogs. Both moderately successful, but neither gave me the audience of B/R.

    This past July I decided I wanted to get back on with B/R after over a year away, and am now an NFL FC.

    As someone who was here for the beginning, was gone for the transition, then came back after the revamping, I was FLOORED by the quality of work.

    I don’t agree with all the opinions expressed, but the site would be boring if I was. All that counts is the opinions are thought out, written, and expressed well.

    I also hate Matt Miller for being in Madden 13. Seriously. Hate him for it.

    My biggest complaint about B/R? Let me use the Oxford comma, dammit! Adding the comma prevents ambiguity and makes me happy inside.

    Look into this, Mr. Kaufman. I’m starting a movement.

    • King_Kaufman

      Thanks for your great note, Bob. But I’m sorry, you and I are enemies on the Oxford comma question. I consider it one of the world’s great evils.

      • Kevin Stott

        Amen. That and Nickelback.

      • Bob Cunningham

        Then if there’s a part two to this B/R-hatefest, I’ll have some anonymous quotes for him all about the tyranny that is B/R and its hatred of commas.

        You brought this on yourself.

        • King_Kaufman


    • Scott Carasik

      I’m a fan of the Oxford Comma myself. lol

  • Tim Arcand

    I have to say as a member of the 90 percent fools who are stupid enough to do this without getting paid, thank you B/R.

    I count my self fortunate to have a hobby that I enjoy as much as this. I may be a small fish in this big pond, but I have enjoyed my experience as a F/C very much and PROUDLY where mu hoodie!

    Tim Arcand

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  • Michael Guadalupe

    The main reason I joined B/R was for people to read what I was writing. I tried a blog for a little while, but was getting almost no reads. The first article I wrote for B/R landed me over 5,000 reads.
    All I wanted was to get better at writing, and to have a place for people who enjoy the same things I do to read what i’m writing about certain sports topics. I never signed up with the goal of getting paid in mind, I just needed a home for my opinions.
    And I found one at B/R. Sure, I’ve gone up the ranks and gotten badges and stuff, but I don’t really pay attention to those things. I’ve enjoyed my time writing for B/R and will continue to enjoy it and the staff who have helped me along the way.

  • Jim Folsom

    I’ve written over 200 articles for B/R and was never paid a nickel. But I used my articles to bid on writing jobs for which I’ve been paid thousands of dollars. I am so busy now I have to turn work down. So was writing for B/R and not getting paid worth it? You better believe it.

  • BR is well..

    I would like to see a poll as to who believes what. As a former F/C, I can personally understand some of the gripes of writers. So let’s do the B/R thing and take a poll! Instead of naming a select few who are “success stories,” let’s poll the entirety of B/R. Is that not a fair idea?

    • Matthew Snyder


  • Keith Mathews

    All of the rationalizations and quibbles aside, Bleacher Reports, as well as the Huffington Post, et al, are clearly nothing more than an extension of the plantation format pioneered before the Civil War of 1860. It is a phenomenon rolling through the corporate world to use free labor as much as possible. The entire intern program is based on the same ripoff theory.
    Substitute words for cotton balls and the format for the great southern plantations is exactly the same. In both cases one small, elite group profits greatly from the unpaid labor of the many.
    No matter how one explains the opportunities for advancement, the fact that a half dozen writers are paid and thousands are unpaid is extremely significant. Ads are being sold, money is being made, and the labor of thousands is being abused.
    One can easily design a system where the profits are distributed among the laborers in a fair and equitable manner, even if it did take a short time for acceptance, say six weeks or ten articles or ten thousand readers before acceptance into a profit-sharing setup that would pay writers for their work.
    With computer programs even I could design that would not only be possible but would immediately suck all the talent from the other writing plantations.
    All the other arguments are red herrings and side issues; simply excuses for keeping all of the profits among a few select people. Why pay folks when you can con them into doing it for free?
    I write for Bleacher Reports myself, and I am totally against the abuse of writers’ efforts for no pay.

    • Doug Thonus

      All of the “unpaid” writers are getting publicity that they wouldn’t get otherwise. They’re getting thousands of eyeballs on their articles that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Most of them would have been writing a blog for free somewhere else and not getting paid or recognition. Now they are at least getting recognition, and whether that ultimately turns into some money for them or not is up for debate.

      However, if you want to make lots of money, I’d suggest doing something other than writing about sports.

      This isn’t to say everything about the Bleacher Report is awesome or great, but the idea that they’re ripping off their writers is silly. Their writers CHOOSE to write for them because it’s the best opportunity they have available. If they could do better on their own, make more money on their own, and get more views on their own then they would.

    • King_Kaufman


      I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you did not *really* mean to say that people — including yourself! — choosing to write for a website without getting monetary compensation is the same thing as the plantation system of the pre-Civil War American South, a system that operated on human servitude on a massive scale, the inhumanity and enormity of which were so great that their effects are still felt in our society 150 years later. You couldn’t have been saying that.

      If you’d like, I can delete your letter and you can write another one, expressing your point about how you think writers for B/R and similar sites should be paid without embarrassing yourself by comparing sportswriters you think are getting a raw deal from a website to victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the last millennium.

      Consider my offer.


  • bobbybaseball

    What a load of biased garbage from a reporter who was obviously writing with an agenda. Nobody forces anyone to write for B/R; we do for the reasons you mention and just the love of writing about sports and interacting with the incredible fanbase this site has earned. I’ll admit, as a writer from the early days, there were some issues with the whole open source nature of the site. But since then, it has become increasingly more challenging to earn the opportunity to contribute here. This kind of irresponsible journalism masks what is truly a terrific story.

  • Gary Davenport

    Great post King. It’s late, and I just finished my on-call shift, so I won’t go into great detail about my own “success story” (which is still very much a work in progress), but writing for B/R has opened doors for me both inside and outside the company that may well not have existed had I not, and I don’t regret for one second choosing to write here.

    If we’re destroying journalism (an impressive feat, albeit a little super-villainy), then I couldn’t have picked a better group to do it with.

    Now where did I put that death ray?

    • Scott Carasik

      Dr. Horrible hi-jacked the death ray. He’ll give it back once he gets his own sitcom.

  • Saakib Zafrani.

    My only question, as a current intern with B/R and a soon-to-graduate J-School student would be: Why didn’t this joker simply sign up to write himself and do some research that way? It literally is too easy and at least half of what he says is debunked from the get go.

    I’ll be honest, I felt very much the same way about the writing quality and standards having frequented the site for a couple of years. I was one of those posters in the past commenting on articles with “this is typical b/r garbage” or something of the like.

    I needed an internship credit to graduate, so I decided to get a look at B/R from the inside and see if my original assessment was off base.

    From the very first article my opinion changed dramatically, and now I’m more than a dozen in with thousands upon thousands of reads. My friends, family, former newsroom associates, professors etc… all read my articles and give me invaluable feedback and encouragement. I literally have friends and family who read my work on B/R from all around the world that probably would never have gotten to read my work in the university newspaper.

    I get all that on top of university credit, all while growing my reader base. Students who would read my articles in the school newspaper now actively read them on B/R. The platform is tremendous and I could not have been more wrong before, and I certainly couldn’t be more pleased now.

    Well, maybe when I get a new hoodie.

    Here’s my 10 cents, my two cents is free. A nuisance, who sent, you sent for me?

  • Jim Folsom

    The criticisms I’ve encountered while at a game sitting in the press box is that “journalists” think that because they went to college and got a degree in journalism, they are more qualified than we are to write about a game. I had one in the press box say to me, “if you needed brain surgery, wouldn’t you want a doctor that actually went to med school”? I said to him, “this is baseball, not brain surgery. just because my college degree is in legal studies I’m not qualified to question why a manager would take the bat out of his best hitter’s hands by bunting in that situation?”

    I guarantee I could have gotten a journalism degree if I’d gone into that. That doesn’t mean I would know anything more about sports than I do now. That is nothing bu snobbery.

    Instead of looking at B/R as an unpaid job, I look at it as free education.

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  • iliad johnson

    This article is more biased than Joe’s. It’s terrible. You use a few examples of people YOU know as opposed to your average B/R FC or B/R writer. Let us speak for ourselves because you speaking on our behalf is wrong and inaccurate. I was once an FC and stopped because the assignments (among other things) were terrible.

    And hello people…the 5 pages was poking fun at the terrible slideshows B/R is famous for!

    • john doe

      clicked these buttons by accident, sorry. tried to remove and added more by accident

      • iliad johnson


  • Samrin Hasib

    Hey guys,

    I am a current FC at BR for Bayern. So, I am not known much around here. I don’t really read anything that is published here outside of what I write. I first joined in 2009 and have been an FC for over two years now I think.

    I am one of those FCs who doesn’t really get assignments as such because I come in every week once or twice and leave a piece on Bayern.

    The reason I stay on at BR despite working on another site where I am paid ( I am not paid here) is because I love what I do. I love talking to the people who leave comments week in week out. I do it for the love of the game. I enjoy writing here and frankly, the fact that I am unpaid rarely bothers me. (A paid job wouldn’t hurt though obviously!)

    Bleacher gave me a chance to do what I had always wanted to do- write. I do that week in, week out. For those of you who know me here, you know what I do. For those who don’t, anyone who writes here is by choice and nobody is forced into anything I would say based on my experiences.

  • fgoodwin

    You can spin it anyway you want — B/R is a crap site for shallow fans. I’ll never again waste my time there. OTOH, you can’t argue with success and I don’t begrudge B/R their success.