‘Project X’ vs. FiveThirtyEight: A tale of the tape

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Are you a young journalist with a working grasp of advanced statistics? Or, for that matter, a young statistician with a working grasp of journalism? Or no grasp of journalism at all but a perverse desire to be paid like one? You are in luck. There’s not one, but two burgeoning general interest web projects out there with your name on them, and probably a bunch of charts and graphs and stuff too.

It’s been six months since Nate Silver parlayed all that 2012 soothsaying into more expansive environs for his FiveThirtyEight at ESPN, where he’ll now be covering not only politics, but economics, sports, science and lifestyle as well. And he’s still hiring. As of Monday night, Silver was still seeking “database journalists” and “visual and computational journalists” to tackle a general interest range of beats: politics, economics, sports, science, and lifestyle.

On Sunday, Ezra Klein hung a big “Help Wanted” sign in the window of Vox Media for the post-Wonkblog venture he is building under the working title “Project X” to cover subjects as far ranging as tax policy and “True Detective.” “We’ll need [Data-driven documents] hackers and other data viz geniuses who can explain the news in ways words can't,” his wish list read. “We'll need coders and designers who can build the world's first hybrid news site/encyclopedia.”

It’s the age of the explainer, and don’t take our word for it. Here’s web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis discussing his staffing needs for his (unrelated) news app Inside to The New York Times this week: “We want the best news product in the world, but we don’t want journalists working for us .”

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With staffing so critical to both teams’ success, and in the interest of doing a little explaining of our own, Capital today unveils what we’re calling “The Wonkboard.” It’s an updating tale of the tape showing who’s who in the two leaders of the present wonk-journalism economy that will track the headcounts and hires of the two sites as they progress. With a half year’s head start, FiveThirtyEight already counts 15 staffers culled from legacy institutions such as The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Federal Reserve and upstarts such as skepticalsports.com and Business Insider. Klein has the two Washington Post staffers he took with him, and long-time pal Matt Yglesisas, whom he poached from Slate. Hear of any prospective hires? Have any extra information we might want to include here? Please do tell.