Monday, February 16, 2015


Every once in a while I do arrive late at a party, and such was the case with the Five Thirty-Eight blog. Apparently it was big news back in 2008. And 2012. In fact, it was such big news at one point that the New York Times owned / bought licencing rights to it. And now ESPN.


I've seen more references to it recently amongst my circle of friends and it seems like its worth it for me to follow the blog more closely. But I want to know where it's coming from (funding, independence, bias, etc.) before I do so. Now that was a little hard to do given the lack of the typical "About" page on the site. I did enough poking around on Google to find what I needed to find.

But again, ESPN owns it? Seems odd.

Technically, ESPN owning it means Disney owns it. It's part of a conglomerate that includes ABC News.

There is something very interesting at work, I think, in ESPN's decision to acquire this property.

In the 2012-13 school year I noticed a much greater trend of my students following the news. This increase was especially pronounced with the boys in my class. Many of them were registered for text alerts from ESPN, ostensibly for sports news. But ESPN pushed out ABC News stories to them quite often, and that would prompt students to initiate news conversations with me. As a Social Studies teacher, I thought this was pretty neat.

Those students I taught that year are now in their early twenties. ESPN knows that cohort well.

ESPN must see potential profit in this, and if they see that, I think we should take note. Five Thirty-Eight departs from a statistical way of seeing news events, which I think has natural appeal to a lot of younger news followers. Perhaps today's novice followers of the headlines will come to see news the way they have come to see projections for RBIs, sacks, and playoff rankings. That will lend itself to a different way of keeping tabs on the 2016 general election than older folks like me who might look more into issues identification, financing links, and intra-party fighting. Maybe younger voters will get more engaged.

I think there's more to this than ESPN having a lot of money to burn. But my son has arrived here at the lodge fireplace, and we must needs play a game of Ticket to Ride.

Happy Presidents Day.

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