Silver's advice to young journalists in the digital age
FiveThirtyEight.com founder and New York Times staffer Nate Silver delivered the Henry Pringle Lecture to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism graduates last week. He told them:
* Read everything, including academic papers, which Silver says many journalists miss. Some academics don't know how to write, but a few of them do, and there's a lot of wisdom there once you get used to parsing through the language. "
* Learn how to be entrepreneurial. It's important to develop a sense of yourself as a brand ‐‐ don't let yourself become defined too narrowly because that will limit your opportunities as your career evolves. "
* Learn how to make an argument. " The reader is going to be asking you to develop a hypothesis, weigh the evid ence, and come to some conclusion about it -- it's really very much analogous to the scientific method. Good journalism has always done this -- but now it needs to be done more explicitly."
* Learn how to work with data and statistics. "Statistics, to anyone who knows anything about them, aren't factoids -- 4 out of 5 dentists agree that Colgate is the best toothpaste, Uganda is the 118th most populous country -- but instead quanta of information that can be pieced together, just like all the other information that you collect as a journalist, to help you write stories and inform others about the world.