The trouble with Web journalism, in a single sentence: Dylan Byers of Politico explains the “real problem” with Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight web site–it’s not “relevant” to the “news of the day.” Byers’ big example:
‘”To wit; Two days after FiveThirtyEight relaunched, Janet Yellen held her first Federal Open Market Committee meeting, resulting in the broadest sell-off in stocks since the Eurozone crisis. Here was a story that lent itself to the empirical, data-driven analysis Silver champions. Silver could have owned this story throughout the day. For instance, he could have done a data-rich analysis about the interplay between the Fed and financial markets. But the only Yellen-related thing FiveThirtyEight produced that day was a pre-meeting curtain-raiser ….”
In short, according to Byers, FiveThirtyEight needs an editor who says
“If the news of the day is Yellen, what can we do on Yellen?” [E.A.]
Wow. It’s come to that. More Yellen! In one of the great technological leaps of humankind, we escaped the tyranny of MSM gatekeepers only to replace it with the tyranny of the “news of the day.” I thought with 24/7 coverage we’d gotten rid of days! And who decides what’s the “news of the day”? Mike Allen? Your stats program?
What about the idea that with a good enough story or piece of writing on an “off” topic you can make something that isn’t the news of the day the news of the day? Or the day after tomorrow, anyway.
P.S.: To wit: What about Byers’ big example? Do you care today about the FOMC meeting that Byers says Silver should have devoted his website to? Is it a satisfying experience for readers to be bombarded, everywhere they turn, with masturbatory riffs on the same two or three quickly dated stories, only to have them replaced by other masturbatory riffs tomorrow? …
P.P.S.: Meanwhile, here are the FiveThirtyEight stories Byers scorns (“Relevant to the news cycle? Not really”):
“‘Can Evolution Outrace Climate Change?”;The next item is ‘The Imperfect Pursuit of a Perfect Baseball Forecast..’ Then there’s ‘Residents of Struggling Cities Opt to Skip Town.””
Maybe it’s just me, but those seem kind of intriguing.
It would be one thing if Byers said that Silver was unlikely to make money with his off-news approach. But the critique is presented with an unknowing self-righteousness, as if Silver is screwing up–he just doesn’t know the business. It’s an attitude I last encountered when a leaflet I distributed failed to conform to some meaningless election law requirement** that anyone who was a pro would know about. ….
P.P.P.S.: I usually enjoy Byers!
** — I think it was a requirement–one I didn’t know about–that any leaflet has to include a prescribed sentence saying it was ‘paid for by so-and -organization.” It’s a leaflet! Why do I have to write the government’s sentence? Let’s see what Justice Roberts has to say about that.