Articles about "Nate Silver"


Here’s the storyline behind The Washington Post’s Storyline

When Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron congratulated the team of writers and editors behind Storyline after its launch Tuesday morning, he was addressing journalists who’d been spending a lot of time at work.

Some members of the team were in the office until 9 p.m. Monday night making final preparations. Jim Tankersley, the site’s editor, got in the office at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s fair to say that we worked many a night and weekend to get this where it is,” Tankersley said.

The site, which aims to answer big questions about public policy, bears some similarities to initiatives like FiveThirtyEight, The Upshot, QED and Vox, which was founded by Post alumnus Ezra Klein. This morning, Michael Calderone wrote in The Huffington Post wrote that the site was another salvo in the continuing “wonk wars.”

But what distinguishes Storyline from these other explanatory sites, Tankersley said, is its ambition to put public policy questions into context with powerful personal stories. Read more

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Nate Silver: Pulitzer-winning newspapers aren’t immune to circulation losses

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A newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize count has very little effect on its circulation losses, Nate Silver found after a spin through some data:

Does that mean that newspapers might as well forget about quality as an economic strategy? That’s not what this data says. There is a relationship between Pulitzer Prizes and circulation (the correlation is .53 among the 50 newspapers listed here). It’s just that this relationship hasn’t changed much from 10 years ago. The vast majority of newspapers have seen their circulations decline; the ones that win a lot of Pulitzers have suffered about as much as the ones that don’t. You could spin this result as a negative for high-quality journalism — newspapers that win Pulitzers are doing no better at retaining their readers — or as a positive — almost all newspapers are struggling, but the ones that win Pulitzers continue to have more readers.

Silver looked at daily circulation figures, which led to some strangeness: The Times-Picayune dropped 100 percent by his count, for example, because it no longer publishes daily. Read more

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What it takes to create a new kind of journalism

During the night, I tossed and turned over this question: What does it take to create something new in journalism and make it stick? The question was inspired by a Jay Rosen post tracking the progress of Nate Silver’s new ESPN venture called “FiveThirtyEight” (the number of votes in the Electoral College). I glanced at the alarm clock. It said – I am not making this up, Dave Barry – 5:38. It was a sign.

So if Silver’s efforts represent a body of work – data journalism – what exactly is it? Where does it fit in the history of other analogous journalism inventions? At first glance, data journalism is bigger than a genre, more transcendent than a beat. The word “form” feels too squishy, so allow me to call it a mode. Maybe it would help to list other modes of journalism, in rough chronological order:

  • Wire service reporting
  • Investigative reporting
  • Human interest reporting
  • The New Journalism (leading to narrative journalism and immersive reporting)
  • Television news magazines
  • Computer-assisted reporting
  • USA Today (and its influence on color, graphics, and concise writing)
  • Explanatory journalism
  • Public journalism
  • Online journalism
  • Multimedia journalism
  • Data journalism

These categories are big, imprecise, and over-lapping. Read more

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Isolated diversity tree with pixelated people illustration. Vector file layered for easy manipulation and custom coloring. Depositphotos

Why journalism startups should look past traditional talent pools

The launch of Nate Silver’s new, ESPN-funded version of FiveThirtyEight is here, with its data-centric approach to journalism that could reinvent news for the digital age — or at least make it better. And while Silver’s brand of journalism may look different, the people producing it look at lot like the people producing “conventional” journalism: white men.

FiveThirtyEight isn’t the only exciting new journalism site with a predominantly white male staff. As Emily Bell pointed out in the Guardian, we’ve also got Vox and First Look Media, among several others.

“It’s impossible not to notice that in the Bitcoin rush to revolutionize journalism, the protagonists are almost exclusively – and increasingly – male and white,” Bell wrote.

Recent studies have shown that the percentages of minorities and women in newsrooms are significantly lower than in the general population and, alarmingly, that those numbers have remained largely unchanged over the last decade. Read more

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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). Read more

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FiveThirtyEight launches, promises to break news ‘rarely’

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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.” Read more

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James Wolcott writes about “Name-Brand” journalists like Ezra Klein and Nate Silver:

In some college communication and writing courses, playing social media like a harp is considered as integral to future success as teaching your paragraphs how to roll over and fetch. I’m just glad I came along when the writing game was mostly a matter of fighting your way up Pork Chop Hill with long naps in the foxhole and didn’t require daily, hourly upkeep and depend upon the kindness of mouse clicks. Raising a brand from infancy, nurturing it, tending to it as it teeters around the track, sprucing it up when it gets stale—it sounds exhausting, like being a stage mother, a helicopter parent to your own career.

James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

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NYT’s Leonhardt: The Upshot staff will ‘serve as navigators for the news’

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David Leonhardt explains his vision for his upcoming “startup” publication at The New York Times, which will be called The Upshot.

Imagine that you were sitting down with a journalist and could ask any question about the news.

Which parts of Obamacare are working, and which parts are not? Is Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, really in danger of losing his seat this year? Is it better to buy a home or rent one in your metro area right now?

“Our biggest goal is to serve as navigators for the news,” Leonhardt writes. “We’ll be conversational without being dumbed down.”

This urge to explain also drives another forthcoming startup, the Ezra Klein-edited Vox, whose tagline is “Understand the news.” Nate Silver’s soon-to-be relaunched FiveThirtyEight chose a fox for its logo, because of an Isaiah Berlin parable in which a hedgehog “views the world in a simple fashion, with one big defining truth,” Sam Laird reports. Read more

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FiveThirtyEight to relaunch March 17

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight will relaunch March 17, ESPN President John Skipper announced Saturday at South by Southwest as he introduced Silver and Grantland’s Bill Simmons for a panel on personal media brands.

While talking about leaving The New York Times and deciding to partner with ESPN, Silver criticized old media brands for being “being slow on their feet and not having entrepreneurial spirit.” They have no concept of return on investment, he said. Read more

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In an excerpt from a story about Nate Silver’s planned relaunch of FiveThirtyEight.com, Jack Dickey writes about Silver’s hiring practices. Silver graphs potential employees:

The bottom two quadrants belong to the dregs of American journalism: on the left, sportswriters who cherry-pick statistics without thinking through them, and on the right, op-ed columnists. “That’s the crap quadrant. Two-thirds of the op-ed columnists at America’s major newspapers are worthless,” Silver says. He hates punditry, he hates narratives, he hates bold proclamations — and so too does he hate the media’s most willing vessels for all three.

Jack Dickey, Time

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