Bleacher Report: I Don't Give a Damn About Our Bad Reputation

By on January 26, 2011
My colleagues and I will be using all the tools at our disposal to raise the level of discourse. My colleagues and I will be using all the tools at our disposal to raise the level of discourse.

Welcome to my new home.

After 14 years as a writer and editor at Salon, I have signed on at Bleacher Report as manager of writer development. My main job here is to try to help improve the overall quality of the writing.

That's a big goal for Bleacher Report this year. To this point, my new bosses tell me, the site has concentrated on getting itself established and then growing. Now, it's time to raise the level of discourse, as it were. Imagine the state of things if they're bringing me in to raise the level of discourse!

I kid, I kid. But listen, I know Bleacher Report's reputation. "Enjoy your SEO dominance while it lasts Bleacher Report!" read a tweet by my virtual friend, MSNBC baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra. It was a reference to a Wall Street Journal blog post about Google's plan to limit search results for content farms. For the record, Calcaterra didn't know about my hiring when he posted that, and offered kind and encouraging words when he heard.

Another twitterer, Bill Parker of the ESPN SweetSpot blog the Platoon Advantage, responded to the news that I'd joined Bleacher Report by writing, "Seriously? Nothing in the world makes sense anymore."

Meaning it used to?

And one more: A month ago, Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus, another virtual friend, which is to say we've never met but we've played against each other in a Scoresheet baseball league, corresponded via e-mail and he even sat in for me at the Salon column one time, tweeted, "Is there a Firefox extension or setting that can automatically disregard Bleacher Report URLs in Google results?"

That reputation isn't entirely unfair but it isn't entirely fair either. There is a lot of content on Bleacher Report and, while I would dispute that B/R is a content farm, a lot of that content is less than stellar. Some of it's quite good, though. I'll be honest: I don't see my job as getting rid of the less than stellar stuff.

Part of what Bleacher Report does is provide a forum and a community for people to blog about the sports they're passionate about. There are standards, but those standards are different from those at the New York Review of Books. There's room for people who just want to write for the fun of it, who aren't overly concerned that their offerings will not be winning them prizes -- or even praise from terrific, discerning writers like Craig Calcaterra and Jay Jaffe.

What I'm aiming to be a part of is helping the writers who have potential and an interest in improving to do just that. And we're also hoping to find more good writers and help them become even better writers.

How will we do all that? Well, I haven't even figured out where the bathroom is. First things first. And first, I'm going to be a Bleacher Report writer myself. When you next hear from me, I'll have taken an assignment, as featured columnists do. I want to see how the writing program looks from the writing side. I hope I'll be able to write regularly even after I've gotten my bearings.

If you don't know who I am, all that David Copperfield kind of stuff is on my writer page. If you want to read something I've written, I'm comfortable with you typing my name and any sports term you'd like into your favorite search engine.

If you do know me, you might guess that I'm excited to be working on one of the frontiers of what a year or two ago we were calling the future of journalism, at a startup, a disruptive business that's trying to rethink how things are done.

I'm hoping this is the start of a great conversation.