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Nov 21 / B/R Quality Control Team

News Report Story Angle: Forward-looking analysis

Part 4 of Playbook: The Basics of Writing for Bleacher ReportClick here for more information and to download all of Playbook for free.

News Reports, one of the three types of stories Bleacher Report uses in its writer evaluation system, should provide substantive, forward-looking analysis of the reported news item.

Let’s break down that sentence to see what evaluators are looking for as they rate a News Report’s story angle.

“Forward-looking” analysis means that the story makes predictions or raises questions regarding the impact of a reported news item. The reason we look for forward-looking analysis is simply that it’s more interesting. What happened in the past is in the past. It quickly becomes old news.

What interests fans about a completed game, trade, bout, draft pick and so on is what it means down the road. Most readers already know the basic facts of a story pretty quickly, and if they don’t, it’s easy for them to get caught up. So the most valuable content, from those readers’ perspective, is that which makes predictions or asks questions instead of regurgitating facts.

By “substantive,” we mean analysis that comprises two or more consecutive paragraphs in any article format. In a slideshow, single paragraphs in at least two slides fit the bill as well.

So there needs to be some engagement with the subject matter. Drive-by opinions don’t cut it.

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Of course, just looking to the future while putting two paragraphs together isn’t enough either. So after establishing that the analysis is forward-looking and substantive, evaluators ask two more key questions:

Is the analysis plausible?

To be plausible, the argument has to be both possible and logical. Your predictions and questions should focus on outcomes that might really come to pass, rather than on those precluded by pesky little facts like trade deadlines and salary caps.

Beyond that, though, you can’t simply equate “possibly could” with “logically might.” Sure, LeBron James could celebrate winning the NBA title by running off and joining a Buddhist monastery—but there’s no logical connection between the cause and the effect, so it wouldn’t pass the “plausible” test in a B/R News Report.

Is the analysis creative?

What we mean by “creative” is: Does it stand apart from prevailing coverage of a reported news item?

Evaluators compare the analysis in a News Report to the prevailing coverage by running a Google News search for comparable articles—about the same news item—published in the same time period. If more than three of the comparable articles advertise similar analysis, the evaluated article flunks the “creative” test, but anything less is good enough to pass muster.

Sure, this is a bit of a blunt object of a tool for evaluating creativity, but combined with the plausibility requirement, which guards against giving credit to views that are contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, it’s a pretty good way of identifying creative, original analysis.

It’s worth remembering that this evaluation system can’t and doesn’t stand alone as the only way Bleacher Report judges writers and writing. Rough-but-effective measures can do a lot in helping editors identify which writers need improvement in what areas, so we can help those writers with the feedback and educational resources they need.

Next post: News Report Narrative Structure, Information Aggregation
Previous post: Ledes

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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
Textual Correctness
Sentence and Paragraph Structure
Authorial Voice
B/R Style and Formatting
Multimedia Assets
Common Mistakes: General
Common Mistakes: Three Article Types