Nate Silver and the end of newspapers
Yes, that’s a hyperbolic post title, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there were people at the New York Times that disliked Silver’s approach to political reporting and were glad to see him leave. Or, as the New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan puts it in her column:
“His entire probability-based way of looking at politics ran against the kind of political journalism that The Times specializes in: polling, the horse race, campaign coverage, analysis based on campaign-trail observation, and opinion writing, or “punditry,” as he put it, famously describing it as “fundamentally useless.”
Which is a kind way of saying “the Times has no reason to change up its reporting in a significant way, because their old-school political reporters know best and who wants this new-fangled numbers and statistics thing anyway, that’s just boring. We want to keep our access to politicians intact and keep printing every one of their fantastic utterances verbatim. And we know how political campaigns unfurl on the ground, because WE report it”
I mean, come on! Look at what Sullivan has to say about Silver’s influence amongst younger readers:
“After all, his star power was significant. And his ability to drive traffic – especially among young, non-newspaper readers with his FiveThirtyEight blog – was unmatched, and probably will remain so.”
Isn’t that the Holy Grail that newspapers are searching for everyday in an Internet age?
So we are left with this from Sullivan:
* 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 e-mail 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.
Traditional and well-respected. Well there you have it. No room for untraditional and brilliant.
Meanwhile, this whole discourse complete with inane comments from Politico’s Dylan Byers, leaves Charles Pierce of Esquire’s Politics Blog wanting to “guzzle antifreeze.”
Those NY Times political journalists are helping the Oregon Media Group look smart.
Ok, rant over.