We’re continuing to build our team of journalists at FiveThirtyEight as we prepare for re-launch with our partners at ESPN and ABC News early this year. This is an interim landing page for site announcements and job postings; it also contains the archive of FiveThirtyEight from 2008 through mid-2010, prior to its tenure with The New York Times.
In contrast to the previous version of the site, which mainly focused on electoral politics, the new FiveThirtyEight will provide coverage of five major subjects: politics, economics, sports, science, and lifestyle. By design, almost any topic in the news can potentially fit into one or more of these categories. Our idea is that the site’s mission will be defined by how we cover the news rather than what we cover.
How will we cover the news? The new version of FiveThirtyEight will seek to apply the concept of data journalism on a wider scale.
What is data journalism? In one sense, data journalism can refer to the application of statistics and other quantitative methods toward issues in the news. Plenty of us are “stat geeks” at FiveThirtyEight. However, our methods will also include data visualization; the development of interactive graphics and features; and investigative and explanatory reporting, especially as applied to publicly-available data sets.
We’re aware that our strengths as a journalistic organization provide more value in some fields than others. For instance, statistical analysis is more likely to be useful when applied to a gubernatorial election in South Carolina than to a civil war in Syria. We have immense respect for news-gathering journalists and for original reporting.
However, part of our mission will be to critique irresponsible uses of data and statistics when they arise in news coverage, or elsewhere in society. As I describe in my book, the increased availability of larger datasets and faster computers (i.e. “Big Data”) has produced rapid progress in some fields — but disappointing results in many others. My view is that statistical data, like other types of information, has the potential to mislead unless it is placed into context and backed by a method that seeks to scrutinize evidence and develop hypotheses about the world. (The idea that journalism might learn something from the methods of science has been around for many years.)
All of this may sound very serious. But we’re going to have a lot of fun in exploring everything from baseball to burritos.
Hiring a great team of journalists is essential to making this a sustainable enterprise. We’ve hired 15 amazing journalists so far, and we’re actively interviewing candidates for several open positions, includingdatabase journalists, visual and computational journalists; and a Director of Business Development. Applicants can send their materials to 538JOBS AT GMAIL DOT COM, and should follow the instructions associated with the links for the individual job postings.
For further information about the new FiveThirtyEight, please see the videos of my recent appearances at thePaley Center in New York, and at the Online News Association in Atlanta, or my recent interview with AdAge.
We appreciate your patience during this interim period and we hope that you’ll become regular visitors to FiveThirtyEight when the site relaunches.