Five 30 Eight Bloggers Clobbering Mainstream Media

Volunteer journalism hit a speed bump last month when a fraudster posted a story about a Steve Jobs heart attack on CNN’s iReport. Other efforts, however, have been more promising. Such as polling-analysis site Five 30 Eight:

FT: Five 30 Eight…[is] a three-person operation that has produced an array of insights into the US presidential (and Senate and House) elections this year.

Five 30 Eight (the name comes from the number of votes in the electoral college that formally decides on the next president) was established by Nate Silver, a baseball statistician, who has been meticulously collating and analysing polls this year.

He has done this using sophisticated modelling and statistical techniques and appears to me to have been a model of reason and clarity. His unpaid work (although Five 30 Eight takes advertisements on its site) reads at least as well, if not better, than that of many professionals.

Five 30 Eight has become a leader among polling aggregation sites (the other best-known sites being Pollster and Real Clear Politics. It is favoured by Democratic-inclined bloggers as an alternative to the supposedly right-leaning RCP (which, by the way, also has a lot of high-quality data) and Mr Silver is a Barack Obama supporter, but he seems scrupulous in his analysis.

Be that as it may, Five 30 Eight has also been featuring some interesting reportage on organisation on the ground in tightly-contested states. This has been done by Sean Quinn, a self-described “poker player” who has travelled around states reporting on activity at local campaign offices.

Five 30 Eight has picked up a lot of traffic as a result of this combination of analysis and reporting, and deservedly so. I am not sure that it quite counts as citizen journalism, but it is definitely not journalism as we have traditionally known it.

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