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Oct 19 / Tom Sunderland

B/R Sportswriting Internship: One-on-one feedback is the key

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

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In my development as a sports journalist, my desire to succeed within the industry always stemmed from sports first and writing second. That sensation you have when you know exactly what to say but don’t know how to say it was a familiar feeling. For me, the Bleacher Report Sportswriting Internship was ideal in that sense, providing me with all the tools necessary to formulate those opinions in a more acute manner.

The attribute that struck me most about the program was the quality of one-to-one feedback.

B/R reaches an audience of millions every month, and even with the vast resources on hand, it was surprising to see just how much help was available. If you require a helping hand with researching a piece, someone’s there. If you need an extra pair of eyes to glance over an article, someone’s around to do just that.

Being from Wales, it was difficult for me to come to grips with some aspects of the site’s writing style at times. That said, the constant flow of guidelines, tips and research material helped in refining those rough edges for the necessary audience.

The Sportswriting Internship is far from a walk in the park, though. The modern sports journalist isn’t one-dimensional and should be able to comment on a number of sports. I thought my knowledge of sports was broad before I entered the program, but only when challenged with specific assignments did I realize just how much there is left to learn.

With Bleacher Report, the audience is there to be engaged, viewers are there to read your material, but the opportunity is useless unless you take full advantage. It’s vital to scrutinize your own work, and the internship has taught me to be impartial in reviewing any article. This meant that where once I would have seen no flaws, I learned to see several, regardless of how small.

Then there are the more finite details the internship teaches you to hone. From something as simple as changing your profile picture to put across the right image, to providing sources for any quotes, rumors and references.

In sports, it’s easy to feel as if everyone’s a critic. I’d be lying if I said that in my younger days, what was once a comment on a writer’s article didn’t turn into a full-flowing rant about a topic that I felt strongly about. Bleacher Report teaches you to take a step back and look at the whole subject, from all angles.

It’s impossible to please everyone 100 percent of the time in something, but I now feel as if my entire outlook on the industry has changed, and full-blooded opinion has been replaced by a more intelligent and, most importantly, more capable writer.

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Tom Sunderland is a World Football Featured Columnist and is in the Summer/Fall Internship class. Follow him on Twitter @TomSunderland_.

  • Burnside

    An eye opening analysis,very informative.