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Posts Tagged ‘Ezra Klein’

Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What Do You Think?

Vox-MediaFinally Ezra Klein‘s Vox.com has debuted, and the Internet has spoken. Of course, the former Wonkblogger and Washington Post resident celebrity’s move away from legacy media to, essentially a startup, was big news, so anyone interested in new media is watching closely.

Vox Media has been known in recent years for its success in online publishing — because they’re digitally native, they’ve been able to pioneer the art of creating cool-looking “verticals,” relying on a combination CEO and Chairman Jim Bankoff often champions: top-notch talent and the best possible technology.

The seventh of Vox’s properties behind The Verge, Polygon, Eater, SB Nation, Racked and Curbed, Vox.com is a slight departure from the company’s typical paradigm; instead of focusing on sports or food (SB Nation and Eater, respectively), its role is to report and analyze general news. Klein, several of his Post colleagues and other reporters, totaling a 20-person team, were brought in to do explanatory journalism. That is, to provide ongoing resources for understanding the concepts behind news stories, whether they’re politically, financially  or culturally focused.

Which brings us to “Vox Cards,” a sort of digital index card akin to how you studied for college exams. The cards take big topics like the Affordable Care Act, Bitcoin, global warming, immigration reform and my favorite — “Congressional dysfunction” — and break them down into 20 or so simple questions and answers that hopefully help readers understand the why it matters aspect of the news. Vox Cards are linked to in articles, which include “highlighted” words. Basically, Vox Cards help you digest the “vegetables” of current events in a slideshow form.

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There’s a Lack of Diversity in New Media Orgs. How Do We Fix It?

peopleThe Internet turned 25 this week and, like most twenty-somethings, still has much to work on, despite its ego. The Internet’s id shows itself in recent conversations surrounding the “new (new) journalism,” and various journalism start-ups. Emily Bell wrote yesterday that these start-ups are far from revolutionary — if only because many of them are founded and fronted by men. Think Glenn Greenwald, Ezra Klein, Nate Silver.

Is this because female journalists are less likely to be plugged as “marquee” writers, as Bell suggests? Or that they have to choose between serving others or being a stand-alone presence as columnist? Or are women simply less likely to apply (remember that Clay Shirky post?).

While I’m glad she brought it up, it’s worth noting that she may be asking the wrong question. There are successful “new” news orgs founded by women and run by them. While Melissa Bell may have, according to Bell’s post, worked in the background at Wonkblog, she seems to have a presence over at Vox — if only because she gets screen time in the launch video. What about Sarah Lacy or Kara Swisher? Vox just poached Eleanor Barkhorn. Read more

Project X No More: Understanding the News with Vox

It’s a real thing now. Ezra Klein’s much gabbed about Project X has a name, a launch video, and its first explainer. Under Vox Media, the venture is simply Vox.com. Here’s their launch video:

I’m excited to see what it looks like and what it does. I like the idea of a news explainer — I recently wanted one for my not so newsy father who was asking about the Ukraine news cycle. To him, it seemed like it came out of nowhere: “this wasn’t on the evening news two weeks ago!” I, on the other hand, had been watching is slowly unfold and then blow up on Twitter and around the internet. Will there be a single link I can send him the next time that happens?

What do you think about Vox? Do you think this is the solution to the “problem in journalism” as Klein and company see it?

Image via Vox. 

What’s In A Name? For New Media Companies, It’s Everything

opendictionaryThis week, First Look Media launched their inaugural “digital magazine” The Intercept. As Matthew Ingram points out here, it’s a term that doesn’t quite fit what they’re aiming to do. It’s not a targeted vertical on a larger site, it’s not a niche blog, it’s something else, something new

Jay Rosen, an advisor to First Look, has classified The Intercept, along with Re/Code or Grantland, under “the personal franchise model.” He writes:

By “personal franchise” I mean something more: a central figure or personality has given birth to a newsroom, a larger operation. But the larger operation still feels like an individual’s site.

In practice, this means that First Look’s design, according to Rosen’s post on the company:

…accepts and incorporates the personal franchise style, treating it as no threat to the editorial ambitions that First Look has for itself. In fact, the hope is to attract others who can launch sites like The Intercept, and to offer a common core of services — data skills, design help, good publishing tools, strong legal advice, marketing muscle — that the founders will need to succeed…Under this model, the diverse paths that such sites may take are not a “distraction” from the core business or a subtraction from the editorial brand but a vital part of both.

What I find exciting is not just that there are so many examples of this personal franchise model, but that so many founders are completely rethinking how we produce, distribute, and consume journalism. Think about Ezra Klein under Vox Media with Project X: they’re thinking about doing something so differently, it doesn’t even have a name yet.

I think the culture demands that we describe our ventures in an ‘elevator pitch,’ or worse, 140 characters or less. But maybe that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you call it a magazine or a blog, it doesn’t change the editorial mission behind The Intercept, or saying that Project X is a “news site/encyclopedia” doesn’t make it less of an undertaking.

What’s more important — defining the shift in business models or focusing on the shift? What do you think about the term ‘digital magazine?’

Haters Will Hate: Why Shouldn’t Ezra Klein Start His Own Media Company?

ezraklein1If I were friends with Ezra Klein, I would tell him to keep his chin up this week. As you might have read, he’s leaving the Post and Wonkblog, effective immediately, to start his own media venture, after the Post decided they wouldn’t be interested in investing a reported $10 million and hiring three dozen people to help him do it.

The general consensus is that Klein is going to need more luck than funding to make this work.

 

It’s not going to be easy — as many have pointed out — relying on advertising and his brand won’t be enough. John McDermott over at Digiday points out that Re/Code’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg need to charge thousands of dollars for conference tickets to make it work, Grantland has ESPN’s big name to draw national brands, Glenn Greenwald has a billionaire backer and Andrew Sullivan is, well, Andrew Sullivan. Read more

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