Three story types: News Reports, Argumentative Articles, Ranked Lists
Part 2 of Playbook: The Basics of Writing for Bleacher Report. Click here for more information and to download all of Playbook for free.
For the purpose of writer evaluations, Bleacher Report divides all stories into three primary types: News Reports, Argumentative Articles and Ranked Lists.
Each is judged according to its own set of criteria, though there’s plenty of overlap. That is, there are many elements we look for in all three types of stories, such as a good lede, which we’ll talk about in the next post.
The three classifications are unconcerned with format. News Reports, Argumentative Articles and Ranked Lists can all take the form of a standard article or a slideshow, though ranked lists are almost always in the slideshow format.
So here’s what we mean by the three types:
A News Report is any article whose main topic is the occurrence of a factual event. That’s a broader definition than the words “News Report” imply, because it could be anything from the regular-season performance of a player to breaking news of a much-anticipated trade. In other words, a News Report does not have to be something that might be included in a roundup of the day’s news events. The most common News Report topics include:
- Previews and recaps of competitive events—games, races, fights, etc.
- Player trades and signings, or related rumors
- Coach or executive hirings and firings, or related rumors
If the main purpose of an article is to make a subjective argument, the story is classified and reviewed as an Argumentative Article. The headlines for Argumentative Articles typically include words or phrases like “should,” “must” and “reasons that.”
If a piece makes a subjective argument, it’s an Argumentative Article, even if it seems to fit another category. A piece that makes a subjective argument about a news event will be evaluated as an Argumentative Article rather than as a News Report. An example of such a story would be one with a headline like “Why Team X Was Wrong to Trade Player Y.”
Similarly, a piece whose headline makes a subjective argument containing a number (“10 Reasons Team X Was Wrong to Trade Player Y”) would be evaluated as an Argumentative Article rather than as a Ranked List. Each of those 10 reasons would be an argument against the trade.
But if the piece takes the form of a ranking rather than a stated argument (“Top 7 Ways Team X Can Improve”), it would be evaluated as a Ranked List. The key takeaway, in all cases, is that we evaluate an article on the basis of what it advertises to potential readers—so if you’re making an argument in the headline, you need to make one in the text too.
A story is classified as a Ranked List if it consists of an ordered list. Typical headline phrases for Ranked Lists include “The Top 10,” “The 10 Best,” “The 10 Worst,” “The 10 Dumbest,” “The 10 Most Memorable” and so on.
The number doesn’t have to be 10, of course, and in fact, Ranked List headlines need not contain numbers. “The Best San Francisco 49ers of All Time” would qualify as a Ranked List story—as long as those 49ers were ranked.
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There are stories that don’t fall into any of these three categories, such as Live Blogs. We don’t use those for evaluating writers. The Quality Control team does have to evaluate all types of stories for promotion on the site, in Team Stream and in other programming channels, such as CNN.com, but for writer evaluation, we stick to News Reports, Argumentative Articles and Ranked Lists.
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Playbook: The Basics of Writing for Bleacher Report Writers is an 18-part series outlining the metrics and criteria of B/R’s objective Writer Evaluation system. The system complements the subjective assessments made by members of our Editorial Team, which means that a solid evaluation is a necessary but not sufficient condition of success with B/R. You can find more information and download the full Playbook for free at this link.
Playbook Table of Contents:
Three story types
News Report Story Angle
News Report Narrative Structure, Information Aggregation
Argumentative Articles: Thesis, Rhetorical Structure, Factual Evidence
Ranked Lists: Ranking Logic
Ranked Lists: Topic, List Composition
Attribution and Hyperlinks
Sentence and Paragraph Structure
B/R Style and Formatting
Common Mistakes: General
Common Mistakes: Three Article Types