Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Why Gallup Hates Nate Silver

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Why Gallup Hates Nate Silver

Article excerpt

Gallup hates the New York Times' political polling analyst Nate Silver for the same reason the newspaper business hates Google. Both are aggregators that are undermining established business models. (It also might have something to do with Gallup's lousy performance in the 2012 election cycle -- more on that later.)

But let's focus on aggregation, a word that's frequently heard in the media business. Simply put, the Internet is full of people and websites that repurpose the original work of others.

A reporter for the Star Tribune or the New York Times spends many hours researching and writing a story. Then, as soon as it's posted online, others snatch that original product and put their own spin on it to draw traffic -- and ad dollars -- to their own sites.

The aggregators get the benefit of the original work without having to pay for it. The Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, Gawker -- these successful sites all got their start as aggregators, taking the work of others and adding their own (often snarky) spin to the original information. They collect an audience based on the work of others, and often profit handsomely from it.

Some of these sites have added original content and paid staff. But their operations are skeletal, compared with the news organizations that originate most of the content they feature.

Now comes Silver, who got his start as a baseball stats geek and parlayed it into a perch as the New York Times' resident polling analyst. Silver looks at every publicly available poll and adds his own special sauce, adjusting for the varying methodologies of the individual pollsters.

For example, some pollsters use real people to ask the poll questions while some use robo-calling. Some call cell phones, some only call landlines. Silver considers these and numerous other factors, then comes up with his own predictions based on an aggregate of all the available polling data. …

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