Part 16 of Playbook: The Basics of Writing for Bleacher Report. Click here for more information and to download all of Playbook for free.
As we mentioned early in this series, “digital content creators” would be a more accurate term than “writers” because writing in the digital age involves a lot more than just text.
It’s important to remember that readers look for content that “shows” with multimedia assets as much as it “speaks” with text.
Multimedia assets play a vital role in reaching and engaging with your audience. Huge blocks of text, unbroken by photos, graphics, videos or anything else, may have seemed pretty cutting edge when they started appearing on the web in great numbers in the mid-1990s. Now, they look as dated as a Daguerreotype photo.
At minimum, an article’s multimedia assets should be of sufficient number, quality, relevance and professionalism to resonate with the themes developed in its text. But the best digital content creators—er, writers—go one step further by explicitly using those assets to support their arguments or illustrate their points.
Here are the questions to ask yourself about multimedia assets in your Bleacher Report article:
Are they present? A long-form article has to have at least two multimedia assets. Slideshows must have an image or video on each slide.
Are they high quality? A multimedia asset should have these elements:
- If it’s a photo, the image must be of sufficient resolution and vividness to appear on B/R’s front page.
- If it’s a video, it must be the best available version of the footage in question.
- If it’s an infographic, it must be of sufficient craftsmanship and coherence to appear in an article by one of B/R’s Lead Writers.
- If it’s a poll, it must be free of typographical or grammatical errors.
Are they relevant to the story angle? The asset should reinforce the article’s prevailing theme. For example, a photo of a quarterback being sacked in an article criticizing a team’s offensive line would be relevant to the story angle. A photo of that same quarterback celebrating a touchdown, or of a defensive player from that team making a great play, would not make sense.
Are they properly captioned? All photos should be accompanied by a descriptive and grammatically correct caption. To answer a frequently asked question: Every photo in a slideshow should have a caption, and the text of the slide does not count as the caption.
Are they properly attributed? There must be an explicit attribution to each multimedia asset’s original source. The B/R publishing tool automatically adds attribution for images properly uploaded via Getty Images and Presswire.
Are they effectively referenced in the textual narrative? This is the flip side of the “story angle” question. Just as each multimedia asset must reinforce the article’s prevailing theme, it’s also true that the theme being illustrated in the multimedia asset must also be developed in the narrative of the article.
The most engaging sportswriters in today’s media use multimedia assets to anchor their text, not just to decorate it. To give your audience the best experience, your first thought during the creative process should always be: “How can I use visual media to tell my story?” And your subsequent thoughts should be geared toward producing the best possible answer.
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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