Press Release

Posted by Amy Phillips on December 4, 2013

ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight Hires Chief Economics Writer

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Ben Casselman will join the team of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, the definitive website for data-driven journalism, when it re-launches in early 2014.

Casselman joins FiveThirtyEight as its Chief Economics Writer. He comes to the team from The Wall Street Journal, where he has covered energy, real estate and most recently served as a lead economics reporter. Casselman was part of a team of Journal reporters whose work on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including statistical analysis on oil-rig accidents, won a Gerald Loeb Award and was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting.

“Ben’s exceptional career at The Wall Street Journal demonstrates that dogged and tenacious reporting is not the enemy of data-driven journalism,” said Nate Silver, the Editor-in-Chief of FiveThirtyEight. “By contrast, they have much the same method. It’s a matter of asking great questions, and being willing to dig under the surface of the problem to provide clarity to a wider audience amid the massive amount of data and information in the world today.”

As FiveThirtyEight’s Chief Economics Writer, Casselman will perform original analysis of publicly available economic data, such as monthly reports on inflation and unemployment, to uncover trends not currently explored in mainstream coverage. Casselman will contribute a mix of news analysis, in-depth features and enterprise-level projects.

“We think there’s a huge need in the market for this,” said Silver. “When the jobs report comes out every month, coverage focuses either on what it means for investors or how it might affect an election campaign. There’s not enough emphasis on what it means for everyday American families and businesses. Nor is there enough appreciation for how noisy the numbers can be, and how any data point needs to be placed into a broader economic context.”

Added Marie Donoghue, SVP of Global Strategy, Business Development and Business Affairs at ESPN, “Ben is another great example of the unique and talented voices FiveThirtyEight will bring to ESPN.   He is exceptional at making sense out of complex economic issues.”

Earlier this month, FiveThirtyEight announced several other key hires.

The new FiveThirtyEight will maintain the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the original site Silver founded in 2008, while building on its success around the last presidential elections.  It will be focused around five content verticals: Sports, Politics, Economics, Science, and Lifestyle. The verticals will be led by a team of writer/columnists, with additional content from staff writers and external contributors.

The sports, politics and economics verticals will accentuate the coverage that ESPN and FiveThirtyEight are best known for, delivering storytelling that is both compelling and data-driven. The lifestyle and science verticals are the broadest in scope, and will allow FiveThirtyEight to explore topics such as education, health, technology, weather, entertainment, and travel.

Silver has established himself as today’s leading statistician through his innovative analyses of political polling. FiveThirtyEight first gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election, when it correctly predicted the results of the presidential election in 49 of 50 states, along with all 35 U.S. Senate races. In 2012, FiveThirtyEight predicted the election outcome in all 50 states. FiveThirtyEight has made Silver the public face of statistical analysis and political forecasting.  He has earned a series of accolades. Most recently, Fast Company chose Silver as No. 1 on their list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2013. He was among Vanity Fair’s “The New Establishment: 2013,” alongside Bill Simmons; as well TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and Rolling Stone’s 100 Agents of Change. In 2012 and 2013, FiveThirtyEight won Webby Awards as the “Best Political Blog.”