According to Ezra Klein, formerly of The Washington Post, “there’s a problem in journalism,” one where people don’t care about news. He compares the problem to “vegetables”, where you consume media not by choice, but because you feel you have to. You have an obligation to know what’s happening in the world, but don’t always understand, or even have incentive to care.
Or at least, that’s the problem he describes on the landing page of Vox, which is Vox Media’s latest online publication following in the footsteps of The Verge and SB Nation.
The general-news website, previously known as Project X, will focus on “explaining the news,” with reporters judged by the publication not on ‘scooping the competition’, but rather on their ability to explain the story. It’ll be interesting to see how they cover breaking news.
He describes the “failure” of traditional media as “100 per-cent on us as writers,” and that the “the traditional article format is ripe for reinvention.” How the team aims to do this isn’t specified, however the attached video hints at an integrated system of displaying “contextual information.” This could be the next step from Vox Media’s ‘StoryStream’ system of linking previous articles on a particular topic to the latest article from their publications.
The team will launch with North American coverage of politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, food, and sports. Although they won’t be limited by these topics, admitting that news isn’t easily restricted by topic. Hopefully this isn’t their way of saying that they’re going to have BuzzFeed-inspired listicles.
Vox Media has a history of producing beautiful video and web content, however the move to general-news is a big change for the company. While The Verge has dabbled in general-news, often with crude results, it will be difficult for the startup to compete with newsrooms filled with hundreds. Although, given their achievements with SB Nation and The Verge, I have faith in Vox to do something new at least.
Online journalism has always just been an extension of print journalism, even with blogs like TechGeek, so it’ll be interesting to see whether they actually do shake-up the space, or whether they’re just in the process of building another generic news website. While Vox Media has a history of great design, they are still yet to bring anything new to the table in terms of the actual content. Only time will tell. Vox will launch by May 2014, with their launch partner being GE.