The NYT loses star blogger, Nate Silver to take FiveThirtyEight to ESPN
Nate Silver, the writer behind the FiveThirtyEight* blog, will be moving from The New York Times to ESPN, according to an article posted to the NYT website last night. Silver, 35, will write for ESPN and be a contributor to “Olbermann”, the new late-night talk show to be hosted by the well traveled Keith Olbermann.
Silver’s contract with the Times runs out in August.
Silver, born in East Lansing, Michigan, home to Michigan State University, gained widespread recognition in 2008 when, writing on his website FiveThirtyEight.com he correctly predicted 49 of 50 states in the presidential election, only missing the upset win by Barack Obama in Indiana. Silver began to frequently appear on television, and in 2010 was signed by the NYT where his blog was renamed FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus.
In 2012, Silver was widely criticized in conservative circles for his prediction that Obama would easily win reelection. In the end, Silver predicted all 50 states correctly.
In his post on the move, Times reporter Brian Stelter said, in a bit of understatement, that “his departure will most likely be interpreted as a blow to the company, which has promoted Mr. Silver and his brand of poll-based projections.” Attaching one’s baggage to the Olbermann train is hardly what one would consider a safe bet, so it is likely that ESPN has promised Silver more than a few appearances on late-night TV.
With his move to ESPN Silver will be once again be in the open air, out from behind a paywall. He will also be able to once again write about sports statistics, while doing his political work for ABC News.
The NYT now has a few months to figure out what to do to compensate for the loss of Silver. During the 2012 Silver’s blog drew huge numbers of readers for the Times. In between elections cycles right now, the fall 2014 campaign is right around the corner and the loss of FiveThirtyEight will be keenly felt soon.
* For those not aware, or outside the U.S., the blog is called FiveThirtyEight because that is the number of votes in the electoral college. Voters in each state cast their ballot for president, the winner of the state gets all the votes from that state in the electoral college. There are a total of 538 votes cast.
Update: Here is the official statement from ESPN on the move.