Under the Bleachers: ‘Report’ Founder Tells FBNY Why His Site Isn’t Crowdsourcing

Yesterday, FishbowlNY fretted about whether Hearst Newspapers’ recruitment of user-generated sportswriting site Bleacher Review would threaten paid sportswriters at outlets like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle. We got a chance to chat with Dave Finocchio, BR’s cofounder and vice president of content, about what his site means for news publications.

The idea behind Bleacher Report, Finocchio said, is to give space on news sites to the kind of sports chatter one might hear between two superfans at a local pub. “We provide a lot of the fun kind of speculative content that they can’t necessarily produce on their own.” For example, the NFL draft is a huge way to engage readers, Finocchio said. They’ll debate and speculate on it seemingly endlessly. BR is a way to capture that enthusiasm and turn it into page views, he said.

It’s also worth noting that Bleacher Report content and the work done by paid journalists exist for the most part on separate pages of a given site. For example, even though they look similar, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s sports section is separate from BR’s Post-Intelligencer edition.

“This is not a crowdsourcing play,” said Finocchio, adding that his site is trying to avoid overlap with the reporting of professional journalists. Instead, the idea is to engage an audience with an as-yet untapped enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, sports.

That additional engagement helps existing news sites sell additional ads, and Bleacher Report shares in the additional revenue. Finocchio said Bleacher Review’s partnerships help his site tap local businesses for ads it otherwise wouldn’t be able to secure.

Even though BR’s main aim isn’t to That audience sometimes even produces worthwhile content. Sports fans often have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, and some of them can even write, said Finocchio, adding that dozens of unpaid BR writers have gone on to get paid writing jobs or internships at other news outlets.