Nate Silver has left the biz. The most celebrated political reporter in a long time jumped from the New York Times to become a sports reporter at ESPN. It’s not really a mystery, given Silver’s love for sports and outsider status at the fossilized Times. As Public Editor Margaret Sullivan put it, “A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. … They were also tough on me for seeming to endorse what he wrote, since I was suggesting that it get more visibility.”
Not long ago that political reporters were more or less the top of the journalistic heap and sports writers were at the bottom. Silver’s new gig turns that upside down. It’s not a mystery given how much political writing is horserace driven and sports reporters have become the true celebrities of the biz. But there is much more to it than that. I believe Silver’s popularity brilliantly displays what journalism must be for a new generation.
Here is my obituary praising Silver’s career as a political journalist, written not as the end of Silver but as the end of good political reporting – for now.