bleacher report

bleacher report

The Impact of Bleacher Report on Sports Journalism

1. Introduction

Sports journalism is evolving rapidly with the advent of online media and the Bleacher Report, a collection of weblogs and writing contributed by fans of almost every major sports team and league. One reason the Bleacher Report has made such an impact on sports journalism is that as a part of the new media, it is not bound by the same constraints as traditional print media. Newspaper and magazine writers are typically limited to any one of a number of beats, from basketball to NASCAR. Newspaper columnists usually focus on a single sport. Additionally, traditional print media correspondents are usually physically present at the event they are covering and must churn out articles on tight deadlines and often little sleep. Alternatively, Bleacher Report writers are usually experts in the field they are posting about, and the act of posting in itself is the deadline. While some might assert that not being at an event makes a reporter less credible, experts have likely seen and forgotten more than the casual fan will ever know, and a reporter’s physical presence at an event is not a guarantee of quality material. The deadlines of print media can often yield hasty, poorly thought out articles. Being able to post when an author feels he has produced quality work bypasses this problem, and there is nothing preventing a Bleacher Report writer from covering a live event and posting from it in the same manner that he would for an article based on past events.

2. Rise of Bleacher Report

Since its inception, the founders of Bleacher Report were selling the site to Turner Broadcasting in 2012, the site has faced criticism for a perceived lack of journalistic quality. Many detractors argue that an open publishing platform leads to a lack of accountability for what is being written, and there is certainly some truth to this. An open platform does allow for a vast array of quality in writing, and self-publishers can fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect, where a lack of proficiency in writing leads to overestimations of ability. This is not the fault of the site of course, as Bleacher Report has maintained a diligent attempt to monitor what goes up on the site with quality control. The application of quality control is often confusing to the BR writer, as an article that may have taken hours to write is denied publication, while a slideshow article entitled “40 Hottest Female Olympians” goes viral and is read by millions (Gaines, 2012). The writer may then sacrifice long-term development of writing skills for the short-term goal of page views. Nevertheless, Bleacher Report has housed an under-recognized array of talented sportswriters who have used the site as a means to break into the industry.

Perhaps the most definitive aspect of the recent shift in online sports journalism has been the rise of fan-generated content, and no site has epitomized this shift more than Bleacher Report. Conceptualized by a group of passionate sports fans in 2006, BR was meant to be a network of blogs where sports fans could write and voice their opinions on any aspect of the sporting world. Unlike the typical sports fan standing at the water cooler that believes his opinions would make for a better column than the one found on, Bleacher Report gave these fans a platform to share their views. With fans writing on every topic from every angle imaginable, Bleacher Report was indexed to become a Google powerhouse through search engine optimization (SEO).

3. Influence on Sports Reporting

The goals set were high, with the knowledge that sports reporting was currently being consumed either via television or newspapers. However, the world with content is a fast-moving one and people don’t have time to wait to read about a game the following day in the newspaper. People wanted to know instantly what was happening in the sports acts, and this is the market which Bleacher Report aimed to hit. There was a time when people used to wait for the sports segment of the news to hear about what had gone on that day. Possibly the days when cable and satellite television were becoming more and more popular moved the goal posts slightly. Instant information was becoming more readily available but might not have still hit the entire sports fan masses. The Bleacher Report goals, according to Rob King, were still and are still ahead of the competition of online sports journalism. He answered the question: How does Turner’s acquisition of Bleacher Report further evolve the company in the digital space and enhance its sports media assets and said, “Simply put, Bleacher Report is positioned with its young, engaged, mobile-first fan-built and passionate audience to accelerate the rate of our sports media migration to platforms.”

Influence on sports reporting influencing the way sports journalism is reported is a difficult aim in the modern world, as the way that people read news diversifies: internet, newspapers, and television. For Bleacher Report, the use of the internet provides a good platform to attack reporting. Andrew Careers is quoted in December 2007, as he states, “We started Bleacher Report with the belief that the internet was evolving into the primary platform for sports fans. We wanted to create a website that would be relevant to the way sports fans communicate and consume news/opinions.”

4. Challenges and Criticisms

ESPN, Yahoo,, CBS Sports, Fox Sports – these articles are not only from cheaper sources, but hire some of the most respected sports writers around. This was what one source said about the originality of articles on Bleacher Report, and though some would say it is only a confirmation of what they already suspected, it serves to underline the questions surrounding the quality of writing on BR. Many suggest it is a condescending attitude towards the unpaid writers, most of whom are not professional journalists, and the content they produce. As below, the sports editor for Chicago Now wrote an article titled “Top 5 Reasons I Hate Bleacher Report” which was another source for information. With such attitudes coming from professional journalists, it indicates that perhaps Bleacher Report is infiltrating the sports world and having an impact on a traditional industry, without really being welcome. Steps have been taken to address these concerns as Bleacher Report has created a Writing Development Program to teach the fundamentals of online media and sports writing to aspiring young writers looking to break into the industry. The company has announced a long-term plan to invest in the writing and journalism at Bleacher Report, though it is not yet clear exactly what form this will take. This direct competition with traditional sports journalism is currently on hiatus following the acquisition of National Writer’s Association, who ceased trading in January 2011, in the hope that they would be able to raise standards of writing and re-establish credibility, something they have been critiqued heavily for in the past, finally giving the company direct access to the NWA writers community for future hiring and development practices.

5. Conclusion

Furthermore, Bleacher Report’s significance in today’s journalism shows that anyone can contribute to the sporting public through writing. This was an aspect not previously available to many sports fans as their views and opinions were never widely seen or heard. The ability for people to write about what they know is a huge advantage and a learning experience for many sports fans. What Bleacher Report offers is that many young writers have the opportunities to come through the ranks and write about many sports topics for a career in sports journalism. This opens up a gateway that only a few were previously able to achieve.

This essay has examined a wide range of influences that Bleacher Report has made on journalism. From the fan-based aspect of the site to the constraints and creative compromises traditional journalists have imposed upon it. Ultimately, Bleacher Report fulfills a need in the market for sports content by giving people what they want to know about the latest news, while gaining good information and new insights into the sporting events taking place. This has a lot to do with quality, but also a lot to do with creating and fulfilling demand in what has been previously a monotonous sports media.

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