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Nov 1 / Alex Koma

Painting a picture with words—and photos, tweets, etc.

Alex KomaIt’s an old adage among writing instructors at every level: Learn how to paint a picture with your words.

But while using vivid language is important, my time with Bleacher Report’s Advanced Program in Sports Media taught me the importance of a different saying: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Most of the sportswriting I did prior to joining B/R was for my high school and college newspapers, which is to say that photos, videos and tweets were rarely a concern for me.

I’d written for some blogs before and understood conceptually that pictures are interesting for readers to look at, but B/R has really taught me how helpful different kinds of media can be when making an argument.

When I started writing for B/R, I’d write first and then find videos or tweets to support my views. That resulted in some strong arguments, but sometimes it felt like I was including them just to meet my requirements and not actually make them a part of my articles.

Gradually, I started looking for the media I wanted to include before I started writing. All of a sudden, I found it much easier to point out specific failings by a quarterback when I had spent time pouring through video clips of a previous game and picking out the exact spots where criticism is warranted.

I really feel like the program made me a better, more thorough writer, and learning to emphasize media was a huge part of that.

Writing for a website like B/R means you aren’t constrained by just words on a page. If you need to make an emphatic point, you can use a video, GIF or tweet to help you do so.

It all leads to one final cliché: Show, don’t tell. That’s what the program has helped teach me, and it’s definitely one thing you need to know.

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Alex Koma is a member of the Fall class. Follow him on Twitter @AlexKomaVT.

One Thing You Need to Know is a series in which we ask members of the Bleacher Report Advanced Program in Sports Media to write about just that: One thing they’ve learned that they would pass along to other aspiring writers.