FiveThirtyEight and the rise of the lengthy personal-brand manifesto
Along with the rise of the personal brand has come the rise of the personal website manifesto.
The form has various purposes: to sell readers on the business model (Andrew Sullivan); to rail against punditry (Nate Silver); to set a high bar and a high price (Jessica Lessin); to test newfound F-bomb freedom (Bill Simmons); and to let people know things mostly will be business as usual (Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg).
The manifestos can also be really, really long. The longest of the recent personal-franchise introductions: Silver of the just-launched FiveThirtyEight, with 3,551 words. That tops the 3,262 words written by his often long-winded ESPN colleague, Bill Simmons, when Grantland launched.
Comparing introductory manifestos across recent setting-off-on-their-own sites, by a Microsoft Word count:
- FiveThirtyEight: What the Fox Knows: 3,551 words
- Grantland: Welcome to Grantland: 3,262 *
- The Dish: New Year, New Dish, New Media: 2,332
- Vox: Nine questions about Vox: 961 †
- The Intercept: Welcome to The Intercept: 726
- Re/code: Happy Re/new Year!: 698
- The Information: Introducing The Information!: 330
* includes 500 words of footnotes
† Vox hasn't launched, so this is more of a pre-manifesto FAQ than anything. Still: props on the relative succinctness.
If you were too busy to read 3,500 words about why data journalism is important, Poynter read Silver's lengthy post so you don't have to.