As with any bad break up, you’re bound to experience shock, shed some tears, and maybe unleash a few final harsh words as you say goodbye. And that’s exactly what happened when Nate Silver, political analyst and mastermind behind the FiveThirtyEight blog, announced his departure from The New York Times to join ESPN/ABC News—all in the name of a greater content opportunity.
Although it’s rather shocking for many to see a reputable statistician leave such a distinguished news giant, it’s instructive to take a look at how and why Silver chose this new opportunity.
The Right Environment
Journalists today have more opportunities than ever before to transform their name into a brand that goes beyond their association with an employer. Thanks to blogs, social media, etc., professional writers can get a share of the spotlight and gain more mobility in the professional world—and Silver is a great example of this at work.
As Dan Lyons wrote at Hubspot, this social environment has formed a new type of worker: the Free Agent Journalist. Lyons defines this as “a new breed of journalist can pick and choose where to work, and who can move at will when someone makes a better offer.” If you’re thinking that sounds a bit like freelancing, it’s not. “It’s about creating a platform and then connecting that platform to whichever partner you like.”
Similar to the way consumers have the upper hand in selecting their own content, so too can established journalists pave their own career paths.
The Right Vision
So what pushed Silver to even consider taking his blog elsewhere?
In addition to his passion and background in sports, Silver envisioned a greater purpose for his blog that went beyond the confines of a single political beat. He wanted to give his audience more content from a source they already knew and trusted by covering various topics, including education, economics, and technology.
Unfortunately, he didn’t feel he had the opportunity or the resources to execute it as successfully at the Times. His vision is bigger than the box the Times wanted to keep him in, and we can expect to see Silver build his team of journalists, editors, contributors, analysts, and more over the next few months at ESPN and ABC News.
So does this mean you should go out and find your company’s very own Nate Silver? Not exactly, considering that your chances of finding another employee like Silver are slim at best.
However, you can’t ignore the value of high quality content, and the success and devoted followers that can come along with it. And that’s the lesson to be learned for content marketers – quality will win out, and you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You may or may not be able to find the next Nate Silver, but you can commit to delivering smart, thought-provoking content to your audience.