Part 9 of Playbook: The Basics of Writing for Bleacher Report. Click here for more information and to download all of Playbook for free.
We’ve been talking so far about criteria for the three types of articles evaluators consider, many of which only apply to one or two of the types. From here on out, though, we’re going to be going over things that Bleacher Report requires in all articles. We’ll start with attribution and hyperlinks.
You can find a more detailed explanation of the concepts laid out in this post in the Attribution Guidelines. Nothing you’ll read here will contradict or supersede those guidelines.
In every B/R piece, any non-original material must be explicitly attributed to its original source. That attribution has to be clear in the text, and, unless the original source is not online, you must hyperlink some or all of the original words in that attributive statement back to the original source.
The hyperlink itself has to be accurate. It should lead directly to a page containing the cited source material, rather than, for example, to a home page or a writer archive page.
By “original source,” we mean the writer or organization that originally produced the attributed information. If you’re citing something that Peter King wrote, don’t link to a Big Lead post about King’s article. Link to King.
So what needs to be attributed?
Quotes and paraphrases: If another writer’s analysis is being quoted or cited, it must be attributed to that writer. If you use a quote or paraphrase from an interview, you must make it clear who did the interview, even if you did it yourself. There shouldn’t be any question for the reader who the quoted party was talking to.
Proprietary stats: Proprietary stats are those that have been derived from or teased out of the basic stats—passing yards, points per game, batting average, etc.—that are widely available on multiple league and media websites. There’s no need to attribute a basic stat like Drew Brees’ 5,177 passing yards in 2012. But if you mention his 19.8 DVOA, you have to attribute that to Football Outsiders, which invented that stat.
Breaking news: We define “breaking news” as any event occurring or becoming known within the previous 24 hours. As with stats, widely available breaking news need not be attributed, but it should be hyperlinked. You don’t have to write: “The Phillies beat the Mets last night, according to MLB.com,” but you should link it to a conventional game recap. The key thing to think about here is that if we know something because some reporter or media outlet has reported it, and the news is less than 24 hours old, you need to attribute it.
Allegations, rumors or other contestable “facts”: That is, “facts” whose veracity can only be confirmed by credible authorities must be attributed. This dangerous area is where attribution, with accurate hyperlinks, is most keenly needed.
The Attribution and Hyperlink criteria may seem complicated and specific, but you get about 95 percent of the way to living up to them by remembering a simple dictum that the Bleacher Report Blog calls Lennay’s Law: Tell us what you know is true, and tell us how you know it.
You can also think of the “3 Rules to Live by Link By on Bleacher Report,” from the Attribution Guidelines:
- Show where it came from.
- Prove that it happened.
- Tell where you heard it.
Attribution, citing sources and avoiding plagiarism
Sourcing for rumors, direct quotes and paraphrases
How to properly source breaking news reports
Next post: Textual Correctness
Previous post: Ranked Lists: Topic, List Composition
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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