We live in a star culture. But the “New York Times” did not get the memo, they let some of their biggest stars go, from Frank Rich to David Pogue to Nate Silver.
Unfortunately, all three are languishing without the imprimatur and the distribution of the “Times,” but if you read the memo, literally, the “Times” is suffering too.
Another exile is Ezra Klein, who was with the “Washington Post.” Klein has a new perspective on the news. That it’s being covered like a sport, with daily winners and losers, and if you’re not paying attention, you’re left out. Klein says he’s into stories that live on the web, that have life after their initial posting, kind of like the page on the secret menu at In-N-Out, which got little traction at first, but over the years has gotten tons. (Hey, there’s a music analogy there! Your record may be number one for a week, but have the shelf life of milk, listen to Beyonce’s super-duper video album recently?) So Klein’s new site has explanatory stories, for those who don’t follow the news with a passion, like the above one on Iraq. I recommend scanning at least the headlines, because you’ll finally understand what’s happening.
As for Nate Silver, he was the only one who analyzed the Eric Cantor defeat by data as opposed to emotion. He called it an “earthquake” and now other commentators have employed that term. Read what he had to say here.
Also on his site, Silver has a bracket wherein they’re going to determine the best burrito in America, once again employing data. Analyzing to what degree Yelp is accurate.
I believe Ezra Klein’s site Vox and Silver’s Fivethirtyeight have a long way to go in order to rise above. My passion for their cutting edge ideas has had me checking their sites for weeks, but only now am I even being seduced.
It’s very hard to break into people’s consciousness today. Even if you were a star somewhere else.
Which is why a star should debate whether they really want to leave the team. And the team should pay dearly for the star. In other words, the “New York Times” is not bigger than its writers, that’s last century thinking, today stars rule, in business, journalism and entertainment.
But both Klein and Silver are young. They’ll outlast the baby boomers running the old media. Will they inherit the earth?