Is Sports Journalism Ahead of the Pack?


From TPM Reader PJ

One really interesting part of this Nate Silver move to ESPN is that it showcases how sports journalism culture has had to become a lot more friendly to analytic work than traditional reporting. That is, the fight to supplement/edit conventional wisdom with statistics has already been fought with a lot more editors and higher ups in the sports journalism industry. So while Silver’s electoral work may be what people most value right now, the ESPN culture (which has done a pretty good job of bringing in statistically minded folks on its website, even though Rob Neyer and John Hollinger are now both gone) is probably more suitable for his particular brand of challenging conventional wisdom.

Another way of thinking about this is: we don’t have a Moneyball for political narratives yet, but if we end up getting one then a lot of the same repeated talking points we get every election cycle (Romney’s got the momentum! There must be invisible missing voters!) may fade to black, and that challenges the attitudes and identities of the more traditional journalists. This may be especially magnified if you think that thew new corridor is someone insulated from inputs outside their self-fulfilling/self-sustaining political narratives.

I am a professor of Communication studies, and I study politics for a living but have also published on sports and American identity, since it seems like a lot of your emailers are often specialized/expert sorts.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of