Ty Schalter, Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

>> 8.26.2011

Six months after founding this blog—over two years ago—I received an e-mail from a Bleacher Report editor (long since gone). Said editor shared a link to a B/R article about Calvin Johnson, and suggested I write a post highlighting its awesomeness.

It wasn’t awesome.

I asked the editor about its lack of awesomeness, and indeed if he’d edited it. Further, I noted that with a few exceptions (like Greg Eno’s work), very little of the writing on B/R seemed to be awesome. He said the editorial staff was working ‘round the clock to buff out the scratches, and maybe if I was so keen on improving the quality of Lions coverage on B/R I should sign up and start writing—after all, anyone could.

I asked many of my bloggy friends (and bloggy role models) about Bleacher Report. I was vaguely aware that B/R had a less-than-stellar reputation, but didn’t know the particulars. I got an earful of the particulars. I decided not to start writing at Bleacher Report, but created a writer profile there . . . just in case.

Somewhere amidst all the Lions-y areas of the Internet, I befriended (e-friended?) Michael Schottey. Schottey was (and is) a card-carrying member of the PFWA, and as such had real pro writing and radio experience under his belt. He wrote about the Lions at B/R (and elsewhere) with both insight and skill, and pretty much was the antithesis of everything all the sports blog cool kids thought about Bleacher Report.

I found myself playing both sides of the fence: decrying B/R’s oceans of subpar content and lucrative syndication deals, while fiercely defending the quality of the work their best writers were doing. While the battle for blogger street cred raged on comment sections and Twitter accounts everywhere, B/R continually raised the bar for themselves.

Bleacher Report instituted an application process—no longer could anyone sign up for a free email, sign up for a B/R account, and see whatever they wrote syndicated to major websites within hours. As B/R became increasingly selective in adding writers, they also instituted policies against plagiarism, and instituted content and style standards—taking down substandard posts and banning the worst offenders. As the bottom rungs of the quality ladder were eliminated, Bleacher Report hired King Kaufman away from Salon.com to add a bunch of new rungs on top.

More and more excellent writers were coming to do great work on Bleacher Report, and the rest were being aggressively developed with amazing tools and training.  Finally, this week kicked off with what  newly-minted SI College Football blogger Holly Anderson called “Get That Paper Internet Monday”: Bleacher Report hired four of the very coolest Sports Blog Cool Kids, as well as their own Matt Miller, to be their national Lead Writers.

It’s a Murderer’s Row of OG sports bloggers: Bethlehem Shoals, best known for Free Darko; Josh Zerkle, best known for Kissing Suzy Kolber, Dan Rubenstein, best known for The Solid Verbal, and Dan Levy, best known for On The DL with Dan Levy. The sharper-eyed of you might recall that Dan kindly allowed me to guest-post on his blog, Press Coverage sometimes; I was (and am) a huge fan of his work. Dan’s intro post put it best:

In two months' time I went from feeling like I was doing Bleacher Report a favor by spending 30 minutes on the phone talking about their new program to sitting in their offices wondering how in the world I'm going to keep up my end of the bargain for a company I genuinely believe is going to be the next place everyone in our industry is going to want to work.

The only real problem with the way Bleacher Report has built their brand—something that has always been my point of contention—was that the back-end genius was always leaps and bounds ahead of the front-end product. To become the fourth-largest sports site in the country with no high-profile names writing for you, all while fighting a less-than-favorable (and perhaps a bit unfair) perception from certain media types, is beyond incredible.

The thing is, that back-end genius? It really is genius. And that commitment to improve? They went all-out to hire their harshest, smartest critics. They also promoted their own best and brightest; besides making Matt Miller a Lead Writer, they also bumped Michael Schottey up to NFL Associate Editor. He reached out to me—and in short order, I was trying to remember my old Bleacher Report password.

I shouted it out on Twitter already, but here it is, all dusted-off, updated, and officially official: my Bleacher Report Sportswriter Profile. You can check out my first post, there, too: “Jim Schwartz’s Detroit Lions Look to Stun Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots.”

Now this is the part I'm sure you're wondering about: the impact this will have on The Lions in Winter. I’m glad to say there won’t be one. TLiW was and is my very own; I write it because I need it. I didn’t chop wood and brew cider for three years just to let the little blue flame fade to embers.

B/R serves a different audience differently. It will still be me writing over there; you’ll see similar opinions expressed in both places. Occasionally, you might see differently-edited versions of the same article in both places. But, I’ll be writing about more than the Lions on Bleacher Report; I’ll also be covering the NFL as a whole. There will be lots of pieces there that wouldn’t fit here, and there will be lots of pieces here that wouldn’t fit anywhere else.

I've said and thought many critical things about Bleacher Report over the years, but today I sit blown away. These folks’ commitment to quality is remarkable, and the resources they put at writers’ fingertips are just as impressive. They are dead serious about doing what they do as well as they can do it, and I’m proud to do whatever I can to help them get there.

8 comments:

TuffLynx August 26, 2011 at 2:40 PM  

I am glad to hear that you will continue your stellar work on TLIW. I was fairly distressed that you had decided to write for B/R given their somewhat spotty reputation. Now I am satisfied that this move is actually likely to make TLIW more popular, not make it fade.

Go get 'em Ty!

Ty August 26, 2011 at 9:30 PM  

Thanks Tuff!

Yeah, that's pretty much the way I see it, too. I'll have a chance to do more stuff, read by lots more people, AND I'll be able to grow TLiW.

Peace
Ty

popeww,  August 26, 2011 at 9:43 PM  

i get the b/r email. i tend to click on every 3rd email or so. their email headers tend to annoy me with their 'over-the-top' qualities. but some of their stuff is good. i haven't unsubscribed, anyway.

btw ty, i just spend 400 bucks on 2 tickets to the MNF game in the lower bowl, 30 yard line, row 20. while the price tag stinks, i am beyond excited to be going to that game. plus since i'm reasonable i won't be suprised that we're 1-3 or 2-2 at that point in the season.

ltjg August 26, 2011 at 11:11 PM  

Ty,

I believe congratulations are in order. I'm sure you will do a great job for them and continue the same for us.

rames August 27, 2011 at 12:55 AM  

congrats Ty. You deserve it

NorthLeft12 August 28, 2011 at 1:18 PM  

Ty, Glad to hear that TLIW will stay active. It will take a great deal for me to go to BR to read an article. I can't even get past the titles without giving up.

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Thomas Cahill,  September 15, 2014 at 7:19 PM  

Ty,
I don't know you and you don't know me. I was shocked & horrified by what happened between Adrian Peterson & his son. I spent more than 4 hours discussing it with my teenage son who is a huge Adrian Peterson fan. I am not a supporter of corporeal punishment. I spanked both my son's when they were younger and couldn't be made to understand that their behavior was unacceptable. When they became old enough to reason with I would spend a great deal of time communicating with them about their behavior and what I expected from them.In this instance it was damage control. I read everything I could. As I hhad hoped Adrian very apologetic to his wife about the cut's on his son's legs and the mark on his scrotum.Adrian though believes he's doing right by his son in disciplining the same way he was disciplined growing up. I think it is very sad that parents believe they need discipline their children in this manner. At the end of our discussion we both felt very sad about this situation and decided that instead of passing our own judgement on him; we would let God and the courts do it.
I continued to keep my finger on the pulse of this incident. As I expected most writer's we're attacking Adrian and painting him as a monster. As I read comment sections I noticed more & more people who believe in corporeal punishment were supporting Adrian. I was somewhat surprised by this. I looked at some Facebook postings by the Vikings on the incident. As I scrolled through the comments I saw and read an equal number of people were leaving comments supporting Peterson and attacking the detractors. A lot of these attacks were saying that it was the people who did not physically punish their their children with a switch or belt were the ones raising criminals and murderers. This made me stop and think. How can they defend him. I started noticing supporters saying injuries like this were more the norm. Regretful yes but necessary. To say the least I was shocked by this mentality. Then I remembered a sociology course I took and one of our class discussions was on the different types of discipline within families. Now this is in Minnesota. A state that goes to great lengths to protect children. I thought, as I'm sure others in the class who don't believe corporeal punishment; that would be a slam dunk in condemning this type of discipline. It was quite the opposite. It was a heated discussion that took up most of the 3 hour class.
So I decided to ask some of my friends and coworkers whom believed in corporeal punishment. This involved ah 20 discussions. Talking to several friends in Minnesota by phone. A couple friends in Iowa by phone. And to coworkers at break. Only two people thought Adrian went to far. All the rest said this happens when a switch is used. I heard over and over: "Spare the rod, Spoil the Child." Many of them regaled me with their stories on the discipline they endured as a child. I only have one friend who was brought up in this manner who will not discipline his own children that way. He has many scars on his body from an extension cord. It was from hi grandma not his parents. He didn't know his Dad and his mom was in jail for drugs.
I walked away from these discussions feeling I had spoken to a different species. But just as I believe I'm doing right by my children in error way I raise them; so do these people. And more than 99% support Adrian Peterson.
So maybe you should take off your blinders and not be so quick to condemn and judge. You have an important position in the media and you as well as others are abusing that power with your knee jerk reactions through your rose colored glasses. Take a look around. Get informed before you condemn someone for what they believe they are doing is right. Keep in mind, "Adrian did feel sick about the cut's and the mark."

Sincerely,
Thomas Michael Cahill

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