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Feb 28 / Michael Mandelkern

One Thing You Need to Know: Always take time to copy edit your work

Meeting deadlines is crucial in sports journalism. Readers want content immediately after a game or it becomes irrelevant. In-depth analysis of a player is only important while the athlete is either struggling or excelling.

But it’s just as important for the article to be engaging and grammatically correct.

Copy editing is hardest when you’re working on a deadline. As part of the Advanced Program in Sports Media, I was given three breaking-news assignments last week. For each of them, I had three hours to conduct research, write the article, insert media and submit.

Even with that tight of a deadline, it’s crucial to leave some time to look over your article.

The first step in copy editing is proofreading your article, making sure you don’t have any typos or careless misspellings.

After that, make sure your facts support your main argument. Statistics and game highlights are important, but only if they are put into context.

For example, if you argue that Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is most valuable for his defense, citing his three-point percentage does not support your point.

If you cannot find significant data to assert your claims, you need to either keep digging or adjust your lede.

After proofreading and logically organizing your main points, make sure you’re presenting the opposing argument. Solely pointing out the strengths of your points without thinking about the other side leaves your readers with questions. Emphasizing the flaws of the opposing viewpoint gives you the opportunity to strengthen yours.

The reader needs to understand why the conflicting argument makes less sense than yours.

A poorly written article with a solid viewpoint is distracting. A succinct and grammatically sound but weak argument will not sit well with readers either.

Even the most professional writers are likely to have some spelling or word-choice errors after completing a first draft, and there are always ways to improve your argument. When you’re finished writing, take a moment to read over your work again. And again. And again.

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Michael Mandelkern is in the Winter class. Follow him on Twitter @metsonmymind.

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.