Student guest post: Editing, writing go hand in hand

Students in JOMC 457, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this blog this semester. This is the last of those posts. Ben Swanson is the managing editor of RufusOnFire.com, covering the Charlotte Bobcats for the past two years. You can find him on Twitter at @CardboardGerald.

People often ask me how to make it in sports writing.

First, the main thing is to write your [expletive] off. But the other thing that’s emerged in importance is being able to edit.

Eyes moving from paper to screen for news and sports coverage have lessened the barrier between traditional media and new media. As a result, we’re seeing increased access being granted to bloggers as credentialed members of the media.

Even with growing respect for new media such as blogs, it’s not enough to just write a lot. Not only should writers be able to write well, but they should be able to edit, too. Creating consistently well-written works is crucial to keeping readers returning to your site and keeping their respect for your writing.

When I talk about consistency, I mostly mean style. I adhere to AP style, but regardless of preference, find a style (or create one) and stick to it. It’s also important to remember that style can bend. You’re writing to connect with people.

Above all, write so that readers of varying levels of knowledge can understand what you say. This also includes fact-checking, checking for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. You should have an inner editor following behind your fingers as you write.

Content placement is also key. With some websites, posts are automatically organized reverse-chronologically. But if you can change that, think critically about which stories will attract the most eyes from the home page.

Blogging is not the dirty word it once was. Starting a website is easy, but to break through and rise into the world of sports writing, an enterprising person needs to not only be able to write but also edit.

A good writer and editor that can write attractive headlines, engaging posts and draw readership can rise through the ranks and enter into the sports writing world with hard work. Being able to do it all in running an independent blog has never been so important in an industry where the level of access required is increasingly being leveled.