Mediatwits #88: Blog Franchises: Nate Silver at ESPN; Timothy Lee at Washington Post

    by Zach C. Cohen
    July 26, 2013
    The Washington Post's Tim Lee joins The Mediatwits to talk about his new tech policy blog, The Switch.

    When a blogger or journalist furthers their personal brand within a newsroom, who benefits? The New York Times’ Nate Silver is moving his FiveThirtyEight empire to ESPN, the Washington Post is launching a tech policy blog, and the Times quietly killed its Media Decoder blog (which had no guiding personality). Which blogs work for which newsroom? How important is the blog chief’s notoriety to the blog’s success? The Daily Dish’s Andrew Sullivan, social media guru Sree Sreenivasan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tim Lee of the Washington Post will join us for a discussion of big-name blogging’s place in media organizations. MediaShift’s Mark Glaser hosts, along Andrew Lih from American University and former paidContent editor Staci Kramer.

    You can watch or listen to the podcast here:

    "Online, individuals, as human beings, tend to have more clout than institutions." - Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish


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    Mediatwits Bios

    ana marie cox headshot
    Ana Marie Cox is a senior political columnist for The Guardian. She is the founding editor of the Wonkette blog and has covered politics and the culture of Washington, D.C. for outlets including the Washington Post, Playboy, GQ, Mother Jones and Elle. She is the author of the novel “Dog Days” and lives in St. Paul, Minn. Follow her on Twitter @anamariecox.mark glaser ISOJ headshot

    Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is a longtime freelance writer and editor, who has contributed to magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Wired and Conde Nast Traveler, and websites such as CNET and the Yale Global Forum. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Renee and son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.monica guzman

    Mónica Guzmán is a columnist for the Seattle Times and Northwest tech news site GeekWire and a community strategist for startups and media. She emcees Ignite Seattle, a grab-bag community-fueled speaker series. Mónica was a reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and seattlepi.com, its online-only successor, where she ran the experimental and award-winning Big Blog and drew a community of readers with online conversation and weekly meetups. Follow her on Twitter @moniguzman.AndrewLih_270x210

    Andrew Lih is a new media journalist and associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication. He is the author of “The Wikipedia Revolution” (Hyperion 2009, Aurum UK 2009) and is a noted expert on online collaboration and journalism. He is a veteran of AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1994 created the first online city guide for New York City (www.ny.com). Follow him on Twitter @fuzheado and buy his book here.

    Special Guests

    i-b5d7a78c7154276b2879fe54be4db768-220px-Andrew_Sullivan_cropped.jpgAndrew Sullivan is a blogger, author and political commentator at The Daily Dish, which he founded in the summer of 2000 as one of the very first political blogs. Andrew wrote the blog alone for the first six years, for no pay, apart from two pledge drives. In 2006 he took the blog to Time.com and then to The Atlantic.com, where he was able to employ interns for the first time, to handle the ever-expanding web of content. From 1991 – 1996, he was the editor of The New Republic, bringing its circulation to a record 103,000 and, alongside predecessor Rick Hertzberg, winning three National Magazine Awards in his tenure. He was named editor of the year by Adweek in 1996. From 1996 – 2000 he devoted his time to writing for the New York Times Magazine, a weekly column for The Sunday Times in London, and to the campaign for marriage equality for gay couples.


    Sree Sreenivasan is the outgoing chief digital officer of Columbia University and a digital media professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, his home since 1992. Starting in August 2013, he’ll serve as the Metropolian Museum of Art’s CDO. Sree also writes about social and digital media for CNET. He was part of the founding team of the South Asian Journalists Association and DNAinfo.com (funded by the founder of Ameritrade), a hyperlocal site named one of the six hottest news startups of 2010 by BusinessInsider. Sree has been recognized as a social media guru and journalist of influence by AdAge, Poynter, Newsweek, GQ, the Society of Professional Journalists, Quill Magazine and The Huffington Post.
    Tim Lee
    Tim Lee is a tech policy blogger for The Washington Post. He joined The Post from Ars Technica, where he covered technology policy for the last two years. Before that, he earned a master’s degree in computer science from Princeton. While at Princeton, he was a co-creator of RECAP, a browser extension that helps users liberate documents from the judiciary’s PACER website. Before grad school, Tim wrote about public policy for the Cato Institute.

    Podcast topics

    1. Nate Silver leaves NYT for ESPN

    The New York Times’ famed statistician/journalist is leaving and taking his FiveThirtyEight blog with him. At his new home at ESPN and ABC News, Silver will command a small team of reporters and diversify his current coverage beyond politics and sports, to business, weather and entertainment. Silver joins a host of personal franchise news sites, like Bill Simmons’ Grantland at ESPN, which thrive by finding a niche and blending opinion, fact and analysis. The Times’ public editor notes Silver may have left over personal differences in the newsroom, but almost a year of attempts between ESPN and the Times to poach (or keep) Silver show just how valuable his algorithms and predictions are. That’s especially true after his near-flawless prediction of the 2012 presidential election.

    Is this the right move for Silver? Are Jay Rosen and Jack Shafer right in predicting the growth of personal franchise journalists? Where does this put the Times and legacy newsrooms in the age of self-sufficient blogs?

    2. WaPo to launch tech blog The Switch; NYT kills its Media Decoder blog

    For more news in blogs, the Washington Post is launching “The Switch,” a site dedicated to covering the intersection of technology and politics. It’ll be modeled on Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog, which Switch anchor Timothy B. Lee told Poynter “really found the formula for making Web journalism work.” The Switch, like Wonkblog, plans to make its bread and butter on analysis and recaps. Quartz’s Brian Fung and ThinkProgress’s Andrea Peterson are the blog’s first two hires, with regular contribution from the Post’s tech reporters. Meanwhile, the New York Times has quietly phased out its Media Decoder blog. We’ll talk to Lee about his vision for the blog and how it fits into the current media landscape.

    What blogs work for which newsrooms? Is Wonkblog’s formula the way to go for the Washington Post and other newsrooms? Is waving farewell to Media Decoder the right move for the Times?

    Other headlines

    6 Reasons Google Chromecast Will Transform TV (PBS MediaShift)

    Guardian offers ‘Republican’ option for readers sick of royal baby news (The Washington Post)

    Cameron cracks down on ‘corroding influence’ of online pornography (The Guardian)

    Twitter fakes real users’ tweets to promote ad platform (SFGate)


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    Zach C. Cohen is an editorial intern for PBS MediaShift studying abroad at la Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. Get regular updates from @Zachary_Cohen on Twitter or on his blog.

    Tagged: abc blogs celebrity espn fivethirtyeight nate silver new york times sree sreenivasan switch timothy lee washington post

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