A transfer rumour is an entity unto itself. With the advent of social media, it takes a blink of an eye for a private thought to go viral and turn into an international fiasco. Unsubstantiated chatter within live website trackers that do not provide any real detail beyond click-baity headlines only make things worse.
The struggle for accurate and in-depth information is real, especially during silly season. There are certain football correspondents whose word is iron, and we all know who they are. Others who just echo those stories have to go through the smell test here at Royal Blue Mersey as we dig in and try to understand the source, the information itself and its validity.
The Royal Blue Mersey crew is currently eleven strong, with all of us holding down fulltime jobs and devoting our spare (and not so spare) time to our one true love - Everton.
For your reference, here’s a simple explanation of our editorial process and how we go from first hearing about a rumour to publishing a piece that we feel is worthy of our site and the SB Nation banner.
In this internet era, the print media has gone the way of the dinosaur. The majority of the information we consume nowadays comes in the digital form, through websites and sharing on social media.
To find Everton-related information, we use the same internet as you all do, but we don’t stop at the mainstream media. Using search engine bots we trawl the information superhighway and even delve into the dark web and deep web when needed, but for the most part we get what we need pretty easily.
At the beginning of each day, we congregate on Slack (our collaboration software of choice) and share all the stories we have, making a ‘To Do’ list for the day.
The next step is one of the most important - verification. For each story, we look at the source of information and see if it is the original source. When not cited, we attempt to cross-check and find who the originator is. We have a master list of info sources where we can corroborate whether this is worth pursuing or not.
For those that pass the first hurdle, then we look at the content. If it’s a transfer rumour, does it even make sense? Is the player linked even available? Did he just sign a new long-term deal? Why would he be moving? Is he facing competition for spots or had a fallout with management?
Then we look at the Everton angle. Why should Everton be interested? Is it a position of need? How does he fit into the team? Does he have a past history with the club, players, or management?
When all these are vetted and a consensus reached by the group, the story climbs up the ‘To Do’ list.
Writing the story
Nothing ever gets written without a source linked. Nothing. It’s a cardinal rule here at RBM, and mostly reciprocated throughout the SB Nation network as well. We always cite our sources. And when the source has chosen to remain anonymous (which also happens), we make every effort to generalize where the information came from while protecting whistleblower rights as applicable.
Especially with transfer rumours, we abhor the practice of just ‘leaving it out there’ with news. Any time a player is linked with the club (or leaving the Blues), there is always a commentary accompanying the piece. What are the players strengths and weaknesses? How did he do last season? What can we expect of him? Who does he replace? What does he bring to the squad? Do we have statistics to back that up?
Reviewing a story
As part of the editorial process and to maintain integrity, just about every story the site runs has at least one additional pair of eyes that review it. From correcting typographical errors and grammatical issues to editing the stories for search engine optimization, it all gets handled at this stage.
SB Nation also provides us a strong hierarchy to which we can escalate sensitive subjects to ensure the stories we publish are done fairly and without judgment. There are basic guidelines we use when handling subjects like mental illness, sexual assault and domestic violence - topics we normally don't want to write about at all, but they do sometimes come by.
Publishing a story
This last step is pretty straightforward, but quite critical as well. While hitting the ‘Publish’ button might feel like the end, in many ways it’s just the beginning of the article’s journey to you, our readers. Breaking news needs to get out there ASAP, while other features will be scheduled for maximum viewership.
Depending on the social media form, the headline and accompanying one-liner needs to be tweaked. The tweet that’ll announce this on Twitter and the post that it attaches to on Facebook also need to be written.
Our readership and the club’s fanbase is now global, and as much as we try to get to every single fan and reader when the story is published, we are not going to find everyone at that instant. To handle that we’ll schedule tweets promoting the piece, and repost on other media as needed. So next time you see a tweet linking a story you’ve already read, please understand that there’s likely more fans like you who have not seen the piece yet.
Without the fans a club is nothing, and without our readers we are nothing. If you have any suggestions on how we can serve you better, please feel free to contact us using any of the forms below. Thank you for reading.