The first of the breed was Bill James.
But now we have a bunch: Felix Salmon, Nate Silver, Amanda Cox, Carl Bialik, . . . .
I put them in a different category than traditional science journalists such as Malcolm Gladwell, Gina Kolata, Stephen Dubner who are invested in the “scientist as hero” story, or modern science journalists such as Susan Perry, Julie Reymeyer, Ed Yong, Regina Nuzzo who engage in old-school reporting of science but with a more inquisitive, skeptical bent.
OK, so here’s the real question I want to ask: why is this all happening now, during a time when the economy of journalism is collapsing? Why were there no skeptical, investigative, quantitative journalists decades ago? Great journalism is not new, but quantitative journalism, that seems like a new development. Why wasn’t it a thing 30, 40, or 50 years ago? Is it just that statistical skills more generally have become more widespread, which (a) made it more likely that some journalists would have access to these tools, and (b) there’s now a broad audience for this sort of material? I don’t know.