Morning Media Newsfeed: Nate Silver to Join ESPN | Helen Thomas Dies | Shuster to Al Jazeera?

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Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Blog to Join ESPN Staff (NYT)
Nate Silver, the statistician who attained national fame for his accurate projections about the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, is parting ways with The New York Times and moving his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN, the sports empire controlled by the Walt Disney Company, according to ESPN employees with direct knowledge of his plans. At ESPN, Silver is expected to have a wide-ranging portfolio. Along with his writing and number-crunching, he will most likely be a regular contributor to Olbermann, the late-night ESPN2 talk show hosted by Keith Olbermann that will have its debut at the end of August. In political years, he will also have a role at ABC News, which is owned by Disney. Politico / Playbook Early this year, the Times laid out a plan that would give Silver a staff of six to 12 bloggers to focus on a variety of topics, modeled on Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post. The plan was so specific that it named Megan Liberman, an up-and-coming deputy news editor at The Times, as Silver’s editor. As recently as last month, some executives at the Times were confident Silver would stay, mainly because they had given him everything he had asked for. New Republic ESPN has been trying to land Silver for at least five years. Gary Belsky, a one-time editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine and now a content consultant and contributor to Time, told me Saturday the original effort had been spearheaded by Gary Hoenig, then the general manager of ESPN Publishing, and that the original plan had been for Silver to write for the magazine and ESPN Insider, a collection of paywall-protected premium content on the Web. Daily Beast One thing that is clear, however, is that Silver’s move marks a potentially big loss for the Times. “He was doing something that is fairly rare in journalism — he was doing the math. I say that not entirely jokingly. Journalists are notoriously bad at this,” says Dan Gillmor, a journalism professor at Arizona State University. “For people who care about this sort of thing, it was pretty delicious to watch someone doing the math and to see pundit after pundit make fools of themselves with their ‘intuition.’”

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