Nate Silver on the Launch of ESPN’s New FiveThirtyEight


Joe Coscarelli in New York Magazine:

So you’re on the record about hating most pundits and columnists and the big proclamations and narratives that come with them. There’s been no shortage of those directed at you in the lead-up to the site. What do you see as the big false narratives surrounding FiveThirtyEight at the moment?

One thing that’s a little false is that people think this is all about predictions. That’s a part of it, but not most of it, really. That’s really just one tool in our arsenal. We think the first step in using data is that you have to collect data, you have to organize it, and you have to explain the relationships. Only then, in rare cases, do you feel like you have a good enough understanding to generalize it into predictions about the way the world really works.

People also think it’s going to be a sports site with a little politics thrown in, or it’s going to be a politics site with sports thrown in. I understand why people say that — what we’ve been known for, plus ESPN, plus ABC News. But we take our science and economics and lifestyle coverage very seriously.

We are repositioning FiveThirtyEight away from being a politics site. It’s a data journalism site. Politics is one topic that sometimes data journalism is good at covering. It’s certainly good with presidential elections. But we don’t really see politics as how the site is going to grow. It’s very seasonal in terms of traffic. If you’re trying to get politics traffic outside of election years, you’re mostly looking toward hardcore partisans, and we, frankly, don’t want to write that content to appeal to hardcore partisan readers. Not to say we don’t have political views, but that’s not what we’re all about, really. The growth is in sports and economics and science. That said, we have another election coming up in November and 2016.

More here.