SBD/September 19, 2013/Media

Bleacher Report Lands Four NBA Writers, Including Howard Beck From N.Y. Times

Beck is the latest high-profile addition to Bleacher Report's staff
Bleacher Report yesterday announced the hiring of N.Y. Times reporter Howard Beck to be its national NBA writer, representing perhaps its most significant editorial hire to date. Joining Beck in covering basketball are Kevin Ding, formerly of the Orange County Register; Ethan Skolnick, formerly of the Palm Beach Post; and Jared Zwerling, formerly of ESPN.com. They will report to Bleacher Report Editor-in-Chief Joe Yanarella. The Turner Sports-owned Bleacher Report steadily over the past year has sought to attract more experienced writers to the site, and this past summer landed Mike Freeman from CBSSports.com. But the acquisition of the highly respected Beck quickly caused a social media stir regarding the once highly-ridiculed Bleacher Report. Company execs said Beck and the other new hires might show up on Turner's TV properties in addition to the digital work, but as of now nothing is set. Bleacher Report Head of Content & Product Dave Finocchio said, "We've been out trying to get good, veteran voices, and we're getting to a point where we really have a lot to offer people." He declined to say whether Beck's move to one of the more hotly debated destinations in digital sports represented a larger statement on the current state of media. Finocchio: "I'll let the pundits opine on that. But we have a bright future, and I think for a lot of these guys, it's fun to be part of something that's growing and building. ... There's more of these kinds of hires coming in the other sports and topics that matter to us." Finocchio added Bleacher Report is not entirely abdicating its original premise as an open-source sports destination, but added it continues to grow more selective about submissions. Finocchio: "We're now accepting about 5% of the submissions we get each week. The goal is to provide the best destination for sports fans anywhere." Ding, Skolnick and Zwerling have already started at Bleacher Report, while Beck will start on Monday (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

REAX TO MOVES: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre wrote Bleacher Report "has been a punching bag for a few years for a variety of reasons ... but a signing like Beck is sure to send shockwaves throughout the media" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 9/18). MEDIA BISTRO's Chris O'Shea wrote, "This is what you call one hell of a power move" (MEDIABISTRO.com, 9/18). DEADSPIN's Josh Koblin: "This is a big thing. ... I guess it's safe to assume that 'strict policy' against B/R writers breaking news is becoming a thing of the past" (DEADSPIN.com, 9/18).
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