HD: Baby Names
Posted: 30 May 2014 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Nate Silver takes a look at them.

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Posted: 30 May 2014 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Firstly, zOMG!!!!111 fivethirtyeight is back.

I’ve never seen an analysis like this. Very interesting.

“Almost half of living Lisas are in their forties.” Ha.

Thanks, Nate and Dave.

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Posted: 30 May 2014 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Very interesting article.  I wonder how many people go by their middle names instead of their first names.  My wife is still called “Shirley” by her family but she only uses her actual first name with anyone else.

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Posted: 30 May 2014 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Firstly, zOMG!!!!111 fivethirtyeight is back.

It’s been back for a short while. There has been quite a lot of discussion about it in internet/media circles. Silver, along with others like Andrew Sullivan, are striking out and creating their own branded sites. Silver’s new site focuses on sports and politics, but features occasional forays into other topics, like this one.

(For those that don’t know, Nate Silver is a baseball statistician (a.k.a., sabermetrician) who turned his statistical acumen to politics, predicting recent elections with stunning accuracy. He had been hired as a columnist for the New York Times, but his data-driven analysis clashed with the gossip-driven punditry of the journalistic establishment and he was let go.)

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Posted: 31 May 2014 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Love the “deadest names”!  All the charts are great, of course.  My parents, Joseph and Dorothy, were born in 1915, which fits his data.  (He doesn’t include my name, Stephen, just my nemesis-name, Steven—bah.)

his data-driven analysis clashed with the gossip-driven punditry of the journalistic establishment and he was let go

What was their stated reason?

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Posted: 31 May 2014 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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What was their stated reason?

I got it wrong. He left of his own accord to take a job at ESPN, and the Times management made some effort to keep him. But it’s clear that he was driven away by a somewhat hostile environment. The efforts to keep him weren’t enough.

Here’s what the Times public editor had to say about it.

In the long run, I think most will conclude that the Times management ought to have ousted those that were making it difficult for him to work and made it clear that Silver, or rather his ilk, was the future of journalism. Professional news organizations can’t compete with bloggers in the punditry game. Specialty blogs are far, far cheaper to run and their subject-matter expertise is a lot higher. Where professional journalists have the edge is in investigations, fact-checking, data-driven analysis, and editorial oversight. But that’s precisely the areas that newspapers have been cutting because they’re too expensive. That creates a vicious cycle where they no longer have the differentiators that keep readers/viewers subscribing. Which means more cuts. Which means fewer subscribers. And so on until the organizations die. (Also, the crushing debt accumulated from the media mergers of the 1990s didn’t help either.)

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Posted: 01 June 2014 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here’s what the Times public editor had to say about it.

Thanks.  Here are some relevant excerpts from her column:

As has been noted elsewhere, there’s no question that The Times made a big pitch to keep him and that the effort to do so involved those at the highest levels, including Jill Abramson, the executive editor, along with people on the business side. And there’s no doubt that decision-makers are disappointed.

The Times tried very hard to give him a lot of editorial help and a great platform. It bent over backward to do so, and this, too, disturbed some staff members. It was about to devote a significant number of staff positions to beefing up his presence into its own mini-department.

I suspect that this question of feeling at home in the Times culture was a relatively small factor. The deciding elements more likely were money, a broader variety of platforms and the opportunity to concentrate on sports and entertainment, as well as politics. It all added up to a better package – a better fit — at ESPN, and last week he told The Times of his plans.

I don’t think you can conclude from that that “it’s clear that he was driven away by a somewhat hostile environment.” She seems to be saying just the opposite: there were some malcontents, but that’s not what caused his decision.

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Posted: 01 June 2014 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Note that this is the semi-official Times position. (The public editor (i.e., ombudsman) is quasi-independent of upper manager.) You asked for the official position; that’s why I linked to this piece.

There was a lot written by non-official sources at the time of Silver’s departure about how the other columnists and editors simply couldn’t wrap their heads around using facts, as opposed to opinion and quotations, as a basis for journalism.

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Posted: 02 June 2014 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m sure that’s true; I’m not clear on how that in and of itself would be a determining factor in leaving.  Presumably David Brooks (for instance) has a lot of colleagues who think he’s an idiot, but you don’t see him packing his bags.

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Posted: 02 June 2014 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yeah, but there is a difference between having a difference of opinion and challenging the methodological basis of one’s profession. Methodologically, Brooks is identical to his colleagues. Silver, on the other hand, challenges the core of how journalists gather and present information. (Plus he does math, which freaks journalists out.)

You saw a similar thing when newspapers (not just the Times, but pretty much all newspapers) first started posting their columnists on the web. The ability for readers to comment and challenge the factual basis of the columnists pronouncements generated tons of hostility. Columnist after columnist launched into screeds that boiled down to, “How dare the readers challenge me! I’m a professional who has decades of experience chatting with Washington insiders and repeating what they say.” I was taken aback by the vitriol some reporters spewed back at the very readers who kept them in print. (I’m not talking about the lame-brained internet commenters, but subject-matter experts who exposed the journalists as being shallow and uninformed.)

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