Nate Silver Went Against the Grain for Some at The Times: Why did Nate Silver decide to leave The New York Times and accept an offer from ESPN?… [Silver's] star power was significant. And his ability to drive traffic – especially among young, non-newspaper readers with his FiveThirtyEight blog – was unmatched, and probably will remain so…. I found him a thoroughly decent person, generous with his time and more likely than not to take the high road in personal interactions.
I also had many conversations about him with journalists in The Times’s newsroom….
I don’t think Nate Silver ever really fit into the Times culture and I think he was aware of that. He was, in a word, disruptive…. His entire probability-based way of looking at politics ran against the kind of political journalism that The Times specializes in: polling, the horse race, campaign coverage, analysis based on campaign-trail observation, and opinion writing, or “punditry,” as he put it, famously describing it as “fundamentally useless.”… For me, both of these approaches have value and can live together just fine.
A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by e-mail from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work….
The Times tried very hard to give him a lot of editorial help and a great platform. It bent over backward to do so, and this, too, disturbed some staff members. It was about to devote a significant number of staff positions to beefing up his presence into its own mini-department….
I suspect… feeling at home in the Times culture was a relatively small factor, and that money, prestige and the opportunity to concentrate on sports… it all added up to a better package – a better fit — at ESPN, and last week he told The Times of his plans. Are some at The Times gratified by his departure? No doubt. But others are sorry to see him go. Count me among those.