Nate Silver, the blogger whose unerring predictions made him perhaps the most important political byline at The New York Times during the last presidential election, is leaving the paper to join ESPN. An official announcement is expected later today.
Silver will relocate his blog, FiveThirtyEight, and will also be a contributor to Keith Olbermann’s new weeknight talk show, according to the Times. He’ll also be a regular presence on ABC, ESPN’s sister network under the Disney umbrella, and will appear on programming including Academy Awards coverage, according to Politico’s Mike Allen.
No way to sugarcoat this one: It’s a huge blow for the Times. Silver is the prototype of the kind of entrepreneurial, cross-platform audience-magnet around whom the paper has sought to build franchises. While it still has Dealbook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and technology writers David Pogue and Nick Bilton, Silver’s drawing power is unique: In the days leading up to the election last November, 20% of visitors to nytimes.com read FiveThirtyEight at some point.