FiveThirtyEight launches, promises to break news ‘rarely’

FiveThirtyEight

The new FiveThirtyEight launched Monday under ESPN’s auspices. In an article welcoming readers, Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver says the fact that he called the 2012 presidential election “was and remains a tremendously overrated accomplishment.” It only stood out “in comparison to others in the mainstream media,” Silver writes.

Silver: Will attempt to generalize (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

But prediction won’t be FiveThirtyEight’s raison d’être, Silver writes. He’s far more concerned with generalization:

No matter how well you understand a discrete event, it can be difficult to tell how much of it was unique to the circumstances, and how many of its lessons are generalizable into principles. But data journalism at least has some coherent methods of generalization.

That approach “takes time,” he writes. “That’s why we’ve elected to sacrifice something else as opposed to accuracy or accessibility. The sacrifice is speed — we’re rarely going to be the first organization to break news or to comment on a story.”

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