Bleacher Report Arrogantly Compares Itself to Sir Laurence Olivier



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.

lawrence olivier

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.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports and

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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  1. super

  2. Did you read the letter? B/R didn’t compare itself to Olivier. B/R compared it’s competitors to Olivier and how they, like Olivier did with film, looked down on that particular medium.

    I know B/R isn’t exactly the pinnacle of sports journalism…it’s just a fancy message board for the most part. But if I was trying to make a point, I would at least make sure I got the facts straight.

  3. insomniacslounge says

    I absolutely hate Bleacher Report, and so it pains me to give the appearance of defending them. But unless I totally misread this, it appears that in this letter, Bleacher Report isn’t likening themselves to Sir Laurence Olivier in this scenario, but rather to the motion picture industry.

    Also, if you’re going to criticize the site “for it’s (sic) extremely reader unfriendly slide shows, grammatical errors, misspellings, three sentence or less “articles,”” you probably shouldn’t have a grammatical error of your own in the same sentence.

  4. Harper Alexander says

    Ummm, yeah – I don’t care for BR either, but it’s pretty awesome that you make fun of their grammar and punctuation in the same paragraph as you misuse “it’s” (3rd paragraph) and then misuse it again later in the paragraph about Google’s search algorithm.

    And “Bush-league” doesn’t need a capital B. And watch out for other usage errors like the less/fewer distinction, subject-verb agreement, hyphens, commas, etc…

  5. You’re completely wrong. I did not use “it’s” in reference to the Google algorithm. I used its which is correct. And I’ve seen bush league spelled with lower case or capitalization.

    Both are acceptable. So glad to see the representatives of BR themselves commenting here now!

  6. Haha, awesome! I better make sure to make no grammatical errors in my comment.

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