NewsTrack: FiveThirtyEight 9-29

Nate Silver recently wrote an article for FiveThirtyEight called “Republicans Were More United Than Ever Under John Boehner” in which he analyzes the imminent resignation of Speaker John Boehner. SIlver starts his article noting the fact that despite Boehner being forced out, he actually was able to unite the Republican party very well. The current GOP Congress is historically one of the most united as hardly ever has there been such a large majority that has voted together so often. This is especially because of a strong opposition by the GOP to the current Democrats/Obama. Silver explains that despite this the party is very divided, with hardly any unity behind a presidential candidate and a group of conservatives called the Freedom Caucus encouraging the resignation of Boehner.

Silver uses two graphics to effectively back up his case that the GOP is currently both very united and very divided. The first evidence Silver uses is the Party Unity Score, which “measures the unanimity of voting within one party when it stands in opposition to the other party.” He notes that the GOP Party Unity Score of 94.6% is the highest in the party’s history. He contrasts this using a graph that shows the ideological gap between Republicans within the party. As this time, the gap between the most conservative and the most moderate is the highest of all time. Silver uses two great examples to defend his point that the GOP is both very united (against the Democrats) and very divided (in ideology).

silver-datalab-boehner-3 silver-datalab-boehner-1

NewsTrack: FiveThirtyEight 9-29

Boston’s Growing Appeal to Skaters Pitch

Main point: Skateboarding is a hobby/sport that has been around for many years but has continued to grow in popularity in the past few years. Boston’s first public skate park is currently being built near the Zakim Bridge called the Lynch Family Skatepark. Pop Allston has recently opened as well which features an indoor skate park. I hope to analyze the city of Boston from a skater’s perspective such as whether it is a good/welcoming city for boarding. I want to examine the new efforts that are being made throughout the city to cater to rising popularity of skating (new parks). I also would like to incorporate the perspective of BU students and whether the campus is board friendly (do they fear injury riding on Commonwealth).

Why should I care? Throughout Boston there are new shops/parks meant specifically for skateboarders. It is becoming clearer how popular of a sport it is becoming especially among students.

Why now? While skating has been popular for decades now, skateboarding/longboarding has continued to rise over the past few years. So much so that Boston is building its first public skate park near Zakim Bridge called the Lynch Family Skatepark. In addition Pop Allston, a new community area, opened an indoor skate park over this past summer.


Release about Boston launching the Pop Allston Community Space.

About Boston getting its first skate park

Article about how longboarding has gained popularity in recent years.

Article analyzes the risk of injury when longboarding.

Article talking about the injruy risk of extreme sports

Background on the rise of skateboarding

Human Sources: Broderick Gumpright, co-owner at Orchard Skate Shop, 617-782-7777.

Eric Pickard, employee at Orchard Skate SHop, 617-782-7777

Alana Olsen, Executive Director of Allston Village Main Streets (POP Allston),

Mike Girard,, organizer of a longboarding festival in Harvard, MA in August.

Billy Benke, BU student who recently started longboarding, 516-359-3693

Charles River Conservancy spokeswoman S.J. Port, 617-300-8172

Characters/Real People: Students who skate around campus. People who skate around Boston. Employees at local skate shops. Expert on the skateboard industry. Person involved in building the new skate park.

Scene Action: People skating in Boston (Esplanade, Commonwealth), POP Allston, an indoor skate park. Commonwealth Avenue (risk of injury for people skating on roads). Consturction of the new park.

Multimedia Plan: Videos of people longboarding, possibly with a GoPro. Shoot people skating on the Esplanade/at a skate park in the city with a DSLR, possibly using my GoPro as well. Video from POP Allston, the indoor skate park. Graphs/other data visualizations showing numbers of how popular skating is becoming. Graphs/other data visualizations to show the rate of skate-related injuries in Boston. Video contrasting how a longboard and skateboard are riden.


Eric Pickard, Orchard Skate Shop Employee

“We have our flagship store on Harvard Ave in Allston and we just opened up a new location in the North End on Commercial Street.”

“[Boston] is becoming more of a popular city as time goes on. It’s becoming much more recognized [in terms of skateboarding].”

“We are getting a big skate park under the Zakim bridge coming up this year. They’ve put in multiple skate parks around the city over the last ten years. It’s getting a lot better. It’s more of a destination these days than it has been in the past.”

“We get people of all walks of life. Old, young. We have kids from like six years old to dudes pushing sixty because we have a full skateable bowl in the shop.”

Billy Benke, BU Student

Boston’s Growing Appeal to Skaters Pitch

Three Story Pitches

What El Nino means for Boston in 2016.

Main point: El Nino in a weather system that only appears every 2-7 years. It affects the ocean currents and dramatically affects the weather in many regions of the country. Some areas become colder and drier while other become warmer. This winter is expected to be affect by El Nino which means that Boston would have a warmer winter than usual. This is probably a welcome change after last years record-breaking winter.

Why should I care? After such a brutal winter, it appears the upcoming one will be warmer and more tame. This means less snow compared to last years historic winter.

Why now? El Nino only appears every 2-7 years with 2015 being one of those years. This weather pattern is not typical and thus people should be aware of its impact on the region.

Research: article that describes the affects of El Nino using maps/charts

Focus on the affects of El Nino on the Northeast.

Human Sources: Anthony Fusco, graduate student studying atmospheric science,

David Epstein, professional meteorologist in Boston area. @GrowingWisdom (will find better contact info).

Characters/Real People: Professors at BU who specialize in the atmosphere and the climate. Ask students about what they know about El Nino/do they want a warmer winter.

Scene Action: Earth Science Department could provide information about El Nino, how it’s formed and its affect on Boston.

Multimedia Plan: Videos of Boston scenes that would be affected by the warmer weather (video of the esplanade, walking on Commonwealth, etc.)

Rise of Longboarding

Main point: Longboarding is a form of skating that focuses less on tricks like skateboarding and more on cruising on streets. It is becoming more popular each year especially on college campuses. Many students use it to travel to class and many more longboard for recreation. It would be interesting to examine the rise of longboarding and why it is becoming so popular.

Why should I care? Walking around BU’s campus you are bound to see students longboarding on the streets. It is an increasingly popular method of transportation and an activity that continues to grow. Despite being a currently growing industry longboarding has an interesting history.

Why now? It is continuing to become popular with even more students using longboards than last year.

Research: Article about how longboarding has gained popularity in recent years.

Article analyzes the risk of injury when longboarding.

Human Sources: Broderick Gumpright, co-owner of Orchard Skate Shop, 617-782-7777.

Mike Girard,, organizer of a longboarding festival in Harvard, MA in August.

Characters/Real People: Students who longboard around campus. Worker at a local skate shop.

Scene Action: Longboarding in Boston. Figure out the best locations to shoot (Esplanade, Downtown Boston, etc.)

Multimedia Plan: Videos of people longboarding, possibly with a GoPro. Photos of longboards and graphs showing the rise of the activity.

BU’s Sustainable Development

Main point: Sustainability is a very important issue in a 21st century world. Resources are being used excessively and the global temperature continues to rise from man-made products. Sustainable development is the meeting of present needs while preserving the future as well. BU is such a large school that sustainability is something that should be a focus. Analyzing how BU cuts waste would determine its effectiveness and whether more has to be done.

Why should I care? Over the past few decades the amount of damage to the environment has been exponential. Entire habitats have been destroyed, ice is quickly melting at the poles and the emissions continue to rise.

Why now? Sustainable development is becoming an increasingly important issue in today’s world. It is becoming clear that climate change is a very real issue and over the next century the sea levels/global temperature will continue to rise exponentially.

Research: BU’s Sustainability website lists statistics pertaining to the school’s sustainability efforts.

FreeP article about the BU’s oush for sustainability in the dining halls.

Human Sources: Professor Julie Klinger, She teaches a class at BU called Sustainable Development and is an expert on the topic.

Dennis Carlberg, BU Sustainability Director, He is the person in charge of BU’s sustainability initiatives.

Characters/Real People: Professors in the environmental/earth department at BU. Leaders of various sustainability clubs/organizations. Ask students about their opinions of sustainability.

Scene Action: The various steps and actions that are taken to reduce the school’s environmental impact (recycling room, more efficient classrooms, etc.)

Multimedia Plan: Heavy use of data/charts/diagrams to show both the earth’s changing climate and to show how effective BU’s reduction has been. Video of various ways to reduce energy usage/waste.

Three Story Pitches

College Get Outside Weekend

Sixty students gathered around the bonfire Friday night, ready for the weekend ahead. The College Get Outside Weekend took place September 11-13th in Bristol, NH and a leadership conference, a hike, apple picking and more was planned for the two days.


Run by College Outside, an organization that helps various college outing clubs, the weekend focused on the training and bonding of the club leaders. Officers from outing clubs from Boston University, Northeastern University, Babson College, Brandeis University and more gathered at the AMC Cardigan Lodge in New Hampshire.


“College Get Outside Weekend is a great opportunity for outing clubs of different sizes to get together and exchange information, bond and just generally have a great time in the outdoors” said John Hall(CAS, 2015)

The weekend was organized by the founder of College Outside, Sarah Lockwood, and included a leadership training session, hikes up a few nearby mountains, rock-climbing, swimming in a small pond, and apple picking. It culminated on Saturday night with a raffle of much outdoor gear and two presentations, one about the BU Outing Club president’s recent traverse in Alaska and the other by a professional rock-climbing.


For Lockwood, the joy from a weekend came from seeing the many motivated students. To her, the entire outdoor industry is very passion-driven.

“[People] work in the outdoor industry because they love the outdoors. They work for companies who build gear, who promote environmentalism, who are training the future of the outdoors industry. None of us do this job for money; this something we do because it’s awesome and we have an incredible work-life balance.”

College Get Outside Weekend


FiveThirtyEight is a website that has grown considerably in the past few years. Nate Silver, a former writer for the New York Times, created the website and is most known for his near-perfect prediction of the 2012 election using statistics. The website uses many statistics throughout its content. These various numbers and stats are helpful for analyzing and interpreting different news events and are usually objective rather than subjective. The articles on FiveThirtyEight are divided into a few categories (politics, economics, science, life and sports). The website is able to offer a non-traditional outlook on each story, with the heavy emphasis of statistics being more rare on TV and in newspapers.

In a current front-page story called “How To Evaluate The Economic Records Of Governors Who Want To Be President,” Ben Casselman, a FiveThirtyEight writer, utilizes data and graphs to analyze the best way to look at the economic records of 2016 candidates. At one point in the story he focuses on Jeb Bush’s role in Florida’s economy. The graphs are of Florida’s GDP, house prices, personal income and jobs since 1999, with specific attention to Bush’s term as governor from 1999-2007. Casselman states that while it is true that Florida’s economy was better during the period that Bush was governor, much of the success is due to timing rather than Bush’s influence. Bush was governor for a period where a major boom was occurring, especially in Florida, Arizona and California. Within two years of Bush leaving his position, the entire country experience a recession and unemployment soared. Casselman effectively conveys the idea using the graphs that Florida’s thriving economy lining up with Jeb Bush’s reign was more lucky timing and not because of Bush’s actions.