• Race coverage is about telling the story of the day - that means you cannot and should not cover everything or everyone - this means focusing on the people who are doing the winning and the losing as your priority.
• Speed is important - you need to get the content to us on the same day if at all possible - this is news content, so needs to go out quickly or it becomes worthless very quickly. Yes, this is going to mean long, hard days.
• Photo dimensions: 2400 x 1600 only, please. The site is set to work on the 3:2 ratio that is standard on Canon, Nikon and most other cameras (except Micro Four Thirds), please do not mess around with the aspect ratio of your photos beyond cropping to 2:3, if needed - only art editors and designers should be doing that. Portrait-oriented photos look terrible on the internet and we will reject them.
• We need at least 20 photos as a minimum (although some days just don't go well, so if you can't deliver 20 on occasion please let us know why). 20 is a good rule as a goal - if you have enough photos to produce a bigger piece of a high standard, great, but part of the skill of telling a story is knowing what to leave out and we want every photo to be relevant to the important stories of the day.
• Every photo should have a caption explaining what is going on - and, if appropriate, rider, person or place names.
• When writing you are going to make some spelling mistakes. If you are shooting and producing a piece in one day we know it won't be perfect, but it has to look professional, so always check out text at least twice before submitting it and, if possible have a friend read it for you too.
• No swearing, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. This should be obvious - we are an international news outlet and as such have standards to maintain, so keep your opinions to yourself on such matters.
• Keep it simple to start with - yes, Nathan is doing exciting stuff with the World Cup layouts, but we want you to show us you can get the basics nailed first of all. You should set the blog to widescreen and replace the "l0" in the image size with "h" to make your pictures fill the page. The code is: [PI=XXX size=h align=c][/PI]
• The easiest way to compile an article is to use the "Add to Blog" function in the photo album you upload your images to. The best way to work is to caption your photos when you upload them, then select the "Add to Blog" function, select the photos you want to add, set them to widescreen and then choose to add them in chronological order. This way most of the layout work is done for you.
• Familiarise yourself with the Pinkbike blog system before race day. It's going to be a tough enough day as it is, so by understanding how to create an article you are making your life easier - remember, we are asking you to create content for us, not just take photos. And yes, it is a little confusing to start with, but with practice it will get easier and you will get faster at doing it.
These first paragraphs will set the scene for the reader, so they are incredibly important - you need to explain to readers who may never have heard of the event before what you are covering. Stick to the journalism staples of who, what, when, where and why here. This is not your blog or holiday diary, neither we nor our readers care if you enjoyed yourselves (although we hope you did) - so keep it on point, if it reads like a personal diary we will reject it. We want to know what the event is - if it's part of a series what is going on in the series? Is there a particular history to the event? What is it about this event that means people should care about what happens? Is there some aspect of it that is just plain cool? Never assume that people know about something or someone - just referring to someone as a legend is not enough for example. What have they done to make them legendary? Most important of all - keep it to the point, 300-500 words is plenty - these two paragraphs here are about the kind of length you should be aiming for. Don't waffle, try to fill space or go off on weird tangents - there is a time and a place for that kind of writing, this isn't it. In short, this opening is a pitch for people's attention. If you know you find writing tough, consider drafting your openings before the event so you have time to think about them - you should have a good idea of what is going on before you arrive, then you can just adjust the details to fit events, if needed.
In terms of language, please don't try too hard here - we don't want a junior poetry assignment of dramatic descriptions of the sky (although weather is always important to mention when talking about a bike race) - we want simple, clear, descriptive writing. In terms of vocabulary keep it simple - if you're not sure what we mean a good starting point are the free guides by the Plain English campaign
. You should keep in mind that many people who read Pinkbike don't speak English as a first language, so won't necessarily understand slang terms. For instance use the word "derailleur" instead of "mech".
The sample photos here are pulled from my coverage of the EWS in Finale Ligure in 2014, but if you look through any of our race coverage you will see a similar style.