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Stats Earth The Media

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website 60

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "After a parting of ways with the New York Times after calling 50 out of 50 states right in the 2012 elections, Nate Silver has relaunched FiveThirtyEight as a website dedicated to data journalism under the auspices of ESPN. Silver has expanded his staff from two full-time journalists to 20 and instead of focusing on politics exclusively FiveThirtyEight's coverage will span five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports. According to Silver, his team has a broad set of skills and experience in methods that fall under the rubric of data journalism including statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and data-literate reporting. 'One of our roles will be to critique incautious uses of statistics when they arise elsewhere in news coverage. At other times, we'll explore ways that consumers can use data to their advantage and level the playing field against corporations and governments.' The site has launched with a variety of stories including 'Many Signs Pointed to Crimea Independence Vote — But Polls Didn't,' 'Building a Bracket Is Hard This Year, But We'll Help You Play the Odds,' 'Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use,' and 'Three Rules to Make Sure Economic Data Aren't Bunk.'

The story that caught my eye was 'This Winter Wasn't the Coldest, But It Was One of the Most Miserable' with some good data visualization that showed that although average temperature may not have set records in the Northeast Corridor this winter, the intensity of the cold when it did hit was impressive. According to Matt Lanza although most statistics cite the winter of 1978-79 as the coldest in U.S. history, the winter of 2013-14 brought a rare combination of miseries that many of us hadn't seen in years, and some had never seen. It was colder than usual, it was extremely cold more often than usual, and it snowed more than usual in more places than usual. Traditionally, big snow winters occur in a couple regions. The East Coast might have great snows, while the Midwest is quiet. Snowfall this winter didn't discriminate; it blanketed just about everybody (outside the dry West and icier Mid-South). Look how many cities had not just a little more, but way more, than their normal snowfall."
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Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website

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  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @07:54AM (#46514731) Journal

    Regarding the winter-misery point: the data may certainly show how unusual or extreme the winter was (as a 40-something in MN, it really wasn't that big a deal), but isn't it particularly sad how hard we're working to prove that we're miserable?

    Of course, like everything in 2014, there's a political context (because at least in the West, we have pretty much eliminated every other serious danger that humans have faced, so we obsess over minutiae that would have been lost in the static to any other generation) in proving how severe the weather has been, right?

    Yep, it was a long winter. For the bulk of human history, that's pretty much all anyone would have said, and moved on.

    Not in 2014. In March 2014, as the days start to get longer, warmer, and sunnier...we're busy analyzing (proving, justifying) just HOW UNHAPPY we were?


In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle