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Nate Silver Went Against The Grain for Some at The Times (NYT / Public Editor’s Journal)
I don’t think Nate Silver ever really fit into the Times culture and I think he was aware of that. He was, in a word, disruptive. Much like the Brad Pitt character in the movie Moneyball disrupted the old model of how to scout baseball players, Nate disrupted the traditional model of how to cover politics. A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by email from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work. They were also tough on me for seeming to endorse what he wrote, since I was suggesting that it get more visibility. FishbowlNY This is all understandable. Old people don’t like change, and writers have egos. And maybe Silver acted a bit too above everyone else and that earned him some pages in the Times’ burn book. HuffPost / The Backstory On Monday afternoon, this reporter asked Silver about the Times public editor’s column, whether he felt constrained by the Times newsroom culture, and if he had enough support from colleagues. “I had plenty of support, I felt, from [executive editor Jill Abramson] and from other key people at the Times,” Silver said. “I don’t really want to dwell too much to my relationships there. It was not — I would say, I love the people at ESPN.” Silver added that any cultural issue was “not a big factor” in his decision. NY Mag / Daily Intelligencer “I’m interested in running a website, building out a business here, and having my opportunity to weigh in on different topics,” Silver said, responding to Times public editor Margaret Sullivan’s comments. “I’m not interested in who I’m getting a beer with. I have plenty of people in my social circles for that.” TheWrap / MediaAlley In a conference call with the press, ESPN president John Skipper said FiveThirtyEight will be similar to Bill Simmons’ Grantland, which is also owned by ESPN. The FiveThirtyEight name and URL were purchased for an undisclosed amount. Previously, Silver owned those rights and licensed them to The New York Times for a three-year contract. Its deal with Silver is a “long-term, multi-year deal.” TVNewser Put another way: If Silver leaves ESPN in a few years, FiveThirtyEight will not be going with him, but rather staying with ESPN and ABC. paidContent Silver stressed that “we’re not pulling back from politics. We’ll probably hire at least one more person to cover politics fulltime” and said that the new site’s only guaranteed coverage areas will be sports, politics and some economics. As for other topics, “if we find the right person, we might hire in that vertical… We’re looking for people who can think, do math and write. Those skills don’t always overlap, so it’s going to be an intense search process for us.” TVNewser Silver’s migration from the Times to ESPN represents more than a new URL — it augurs a sea change in the news business itself, experts say.