FiveThirtyEight and the rise of the lengthy personal-brand manifesto

March 17, 2014
Category: Uncategorized

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:


* 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.