New media has a substantial place at the sports journalism table, and that place will only continue increasing in the future. However, Bleacher Report needs to calm down and realize that this place at the table isn’t entirely their own, and that place was achieved by the help of other networks.
BR recently sent out a letter to its writers in which they had the hubris to compare themselves to screen legend Sir Laurence Olivier. Yes, the unintentional comedy is off the charts here!
The sports content farm has often come under fire (and usually, rightfully so) for it’s extremely reader unfriendly slide shows, grammatical errors, misspellings, three sentence or less “articles,” pandering to the lowest common denominator, and blatantly sacrificing form and content for the sake of ranking very well in search engines.
And how did they address their detractors? In the most clueless, self-aggrandizing and condescending way possible.
Here’s an actual email sent to BR’s collection of writers.
Considered the finest stage actor of his generation, Laurence Olivier didn’t take well to film acting at first. He looked down on it, thought it inferior, dumbed-down, of lower class. He once publicly sneered, “I suppose this anemic little medium can’t take great acting.”
His thinking reminds me of some comments I’ve heard lately from Bleacher Report’s competitors who look down at our “little medium.” They think our formats appeal to the lowest common denominator, that we dumb things down. The truth is, we know very well how to deliver to our audience what our audience wants.
Two lessons we can take from Laurence Olivier: (1) The motion picture industry didn’t feel it necessary to defend itself from every critique leveled by smug pseudo-intellectuals. Movies were neither intended to be monuments carved in granite, nor doctoral dissertations. Movies are what they are – stimulating, enjoyable, artistic and, at times, even challenging public entertainment. Movie people were comfortable enough in their own skins to shrug (even laugh) at Olivier’s prissy criticisms. (2) Once he understood what movies were really about, Olivier came to do brilliant work in films and even express embarrassment for his prior comments. In other words, he came to appreciate the “little medium” for what it was – and what a talented practitioner could do with it.
When you hear someone criticize Bleacher Report for our slide shows, tongue-in-cheek style or fan-first approach to sports news, there’s no need to feel “lesser-than” or get defensive. Just understand that eventually, like Olivier, our detractors will come around.
– Brent Andrew, Writer Programs Director
I’m sure you’ll agree with me in saying WOWWWWWWWWW! Do they miss the point or what? Most people criticize BR for having no standards at all in what they publish, and for obviously and overwhelmingly gearing their content to search engines instead of providing an enjoyable experience to the reader.
Slideshows are for photo galleries, not for advancing the paragraphs of a story.
Two or three sentence “articles” that do nothing but repeat high-trending search engine terms, while saying nothing at all, are completely amateur! This does nothing but make more enemies in the industry because you knock hard-working credible people off the SERPs (search engine result pages) in your place.
Articles with a ton of horrible misspellings, bad grammar, and adolescent opinions on remedial subject matter make you look Bush-league. Worse yet you hurt the reputation of online sports media everywhere with your lack of proofreading.
Luckily, the BR reign of terror will soon be dealt a very significant blow. Google is optimizing its search ranking algorithm to cut down the garbage BR produces that clogs up the result pages.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will soon…
…tweak its technology to weed out what the company says is too much unreliable or otherwise junky information that’s churned up by its online searches.
One of Google’s targets, it said, is so-called “content farms,” or websites that produce up to thousands of stories or online videos each day, optimized to draw traffic from Google and other search engines.
“We hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content,” wrote Google engineer Matt Cutts.
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank