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Nov 15 / Dan Matney

Writing on deadline: Preparation, efficiency are key

Dan MatneyThe lesson that’s done the most for me in the short time I’ve been in the Bleacher Report Advanced Program in Sports Media has been about writing on a tight deadline.

The week that covers breaking news was difficult for me and caused a lot of frustration, but as I moved along, I started to enjoy it.

The breaking news part of the program challenges you in multiple ways. You’re assigned one to three topics per shift, and you have no idea what those topics will be until you sign on, so you don’t have the luxury of doing research before your allotted time.

You also have a short time to write, which means less time for research, writing and proofreading.

Luckily, from doing a lot of writing previous to this week of the program, I knew where to start in finding they key information I needed for the stories I was assigned. For example, I’ve found that while doing NFL writing, has a great database of advanced statistics. For the NBA, my go-to stats site is It’s for MLB coverage.

I would suggest becoming familiar with these sites, or whichever ones help you the most, and bookmarking them. It’s helpful to have a starting point when writing on a deadline.

After gathering research, the next challenge is to put together a well-written story that effectively draws in an audience. This is tough because of the tight deadline. Writing well in a hurry is a key to this profession, and this chapter of the program is a big help.

I’ve learned to quickly find statistics to back up my points, and the feedback and editing have helped me improve my writing.

Before joining Bleacher Report, I already had a little practice meeting deadlines with my school paper, The Indiana Daily Student, but those deadlines were for a newspaper, a completely different beast than online media.

When meeting deadlines for online stories, you often have a tiny window to get your stories done, especially with breaking news. By the end of the week, I felt like I could effectively write a breaking news story in around 30 minutes.

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Dan Matney is a member of the Fall class. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Matney.

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.

  • Sean John

    This really an awesome post and you must have an unique experience. Keep posting.