Vox Media, Vox Dei?


Journolist founder, Obama fanboi, über wonk, whiz kid and news entrepreneur Ezra Klein has some exciting new news for everyone:

Vox is our next

Early last year, Melissa Bell, Matt Yglesias and I began wrestling with a question that had bugged all of us for a long time: why hadn’t the Internet made the news better at delivering crucial context alongside new information?

This year, we’re founding a new publication at Vox Media in order to do something about it.

New information is not always — and perhaps not even usually — the most important information for understanding a topic. The overriding focus on the new made sense when the dominant technology was newsprint: limited space forces hard choices. You can’t print a newspaper telling readers everything they need to know about the world, day after day. But you can print a newspaper telling them what they need to know about what happened on Monday. The constraint of newness was crucial.

The web has no such limits. There’s space to tell people both what happened today and what happened that led to today. But the software newsrooms have adopted in the digital age has too often reinforced a workflow built around the old medium. We’ve made the news faster, more beautiful, and more accessible. But in doing we’ve carried the constraints of an old technology over to a new one.

Today, we are better than ever at telling people what’s happening, but not nearly good enough at giving them the crucial contextual information necessary to understand what’s happened. We treat the emphasis on the newness of information as an important virtue rather than a painful compromise.

The news business, however, is just a subset of the informing-our-audience business  —  and that’s the business we aim to be in. Our mission is to create a site that’s as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it.


We’ll be joined by some familiar faces in this venture, including the great Dylan Matthews — and more who’ll be announced in the coming weeks and months. But we’re also hiring. If you share our passion for fixing the news, you should send us your resume here, and tell us how you want to help us do a better job informing our readers.

They shoulda called it “Pajamaboy Media” but that would probably cause a lawsuit.

How this idea of Ezra’s is gonna work in practice I don’t know, but I kinda doubt these wunderkinder have reinvented the wheel. There are already lots of sources for in-depth information on just about any topic, and most of them are already available online. The format of the news business isn’t just based on what they want to present, it is strongly affected by market forces.

The news business is a business. There are two sources of income from the news, selling information and selling advertising. To sell information you have to sell subscriptions. So far no one has been overly successful making money selling news on the internet.

The other way to make money is to sell advertising. In order to do that you have to produce a written or visual product that will attract readers/viewers, then you sell access to those readers/viewers (in the form of advertising space) to other businesses. But marketing news involves more than just publishing it. If Ezra and his super-geeky compatriots have found a new way to package and/or market the news then I wish them well. On the other hand, if they are successful they won’t be unique for long, because imitation is inevitable and the competition is brutal.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

Isn’t explaining the news and providing context what punditry is for? As Professor Jacobson points out at Legal Insurrection, “our passion for fixing the news” is a very revealing statement. Wasn’t “fixing” the news the original goal of Journolist?

What we call “news” is already affected by the selective presentation of facts. This requires that someone filter raw data, but that can be done in a fairly impartial and objective manner. When one of our leaders makes an announcement that is news, not so much when you or I do it.

In order for someone to explain the news they have to provide us with what they think it means and why they think it is important. This is the realm of opinion, not fact. It is the interpretation of fact.

If there is a news story about an event in Syria, explaining the context is going to depend on what the author thinks of the situation in that country. Do they support intervention, or oppose it? Are they pro-Assad, pro-rebels or neutral? Regardless of their opinion, the explanation they provide will be skewed.

In the case of Ezra, Melissa, Matt and Dylan, their political beliefs are well established as being firmly to the left of center – some would say far left or even fringe. So what “context” will they be “explaining” that isn’t already available? What currently unfilled niche will they be filling? More importantly, who will be buying?

Apparently Jeff Bezos wasn’t satisfied with the answer.

Here is one of Ezra’s contextual explanations from 2008:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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102 Responses to Vox Media, Vox Dei?

  1. The Klown says:

    That Ezra Klein wasn’t drummed out of the journalism profession after the Journolist fiasco is a sad commentary on the ethical state of the news industry.

    • 49erDweet says:

      I attribute the critical failures of the Ezra Klein’s of this world to the “everyone’s a winner” movement. Their poop doesn’t stink so it MUST be golden.

  2. The Klown says:
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  6. DeniseVB says:

    Wonder who’s giving Ezra his start up money ? Sounds like a Soros project, but have to question the timing of launching another far left news site when Obama’s not doing anything to slobber over.

  7. Lulu says:

    One of the things that I find so terrifying about little lickspittles like Klein (and his wife who works for the NYT) is that they have no, NO, as in ZERO, background in economics, statistics, public policy, etc but presume to EXPLAIN very complicated subjects to the great unwashed. The very same crowd that thinks he is a genius are who thought Obama was a constitutional law professor. He was an undergrad in poli sci and his wife studied English and American literature at Harvard University but writes about ECONOMICS. Klein’s dad is a math prof so he must be too by osmosis. Not only are they not serious researchers, the publications who have employed them are not serious about the dreck they put out except for the brownie points earned for manufacturing propaganda. Bezos is not stupid and knows what Klein is and waived bye-bye (spinners are cheap and hang out on the corner of K Street). And Klein is creepy as fuck.

    • The Klown says:

      It’s not that Ezra is a terrible writer, at least not in comparison to some in his profession, it’s just that there is nothing really special about him or the other three. They are typical Obots – average in brains and ability, but firmly convinced that they are God’s Special Snowflakes.

      • insanelysane says:

        I simply have no respect for the judgement of anyone who thought Obama had a special gift or was even half-way ready to be President. Those people were horribly wrong and should just go away.

    • 49erDweet says:

      Apparently “the smartest president ever” is too stupid to realize every time his predecessor is blamed for something it tends to prove how much impact and power the guy exerts, even at this late date. Sorta counterproductive, but nobody in the WH seems clever enough to follow those dots.

  8. votermom says:

    I would venture that Klein, MattY & Bell are not creative enough to have come up with this


  9. The Klown says:

    I have two medical appointments this morning. First I go see the VA doctor at 0900 hrs. Except they called me on Friday and said to be 15 minutes early. So why not just set the appointment at 0845??

    After the VA I have to go pick up mom and take her to a specialist for some tests at 11 am. She has GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic symptom of mucosal damage caused by stomach acid coming up from the stomach into the esophagus) and when it acts up she can’t eat or drink anything. It’s not serious but it is very annoying.

    That pretty much takes care of my morning and lunchtime.

  10. The Klown says:
  11. Constance says:

    “The other way to make money is to sell advertising.”

    Oh now I get why they brought the woman who wrote the Style section along with them. They Style is “women’s content” and that women will buy their media because they have fashion “news”. They, like most men, don’t get that the fashion/beauty ad venues are run for the mostly gay men who run the related industry not for women or girls enjoyment. They won’t get the usual style ads unless they have women consumers the problem is they have no idea why women buy “news” sources they just assume it is for the style “news”.

    So basically Bezos was able to purge his new paper of the airheads with out firing anyone, They just sort of self identified, stepped right up and followed each other off the cliff. The little Obots probably think they are punishing Bezos by leaving.

    • The Klown says:

      I have noticed that most blogs run by women for women don’t spend much time discussing hair and make-up tips.

    • 49erDweet says:

      Bezos may have perfected the self-purge artform. When I was in gov’t worked on getting deadwood to “promote”. That meant they changed offices and went back into probationary status. Made sure their new boss knew their shortcomings. Worked like a charm. Gone in 90 days.

  12. Constance says:

    I really hope Bezos brings a west coast flavor to his “national paper of record” which is just another east coast imperial fish wrapper. I’m sick of these self appointed elitists running everything. It’s not like they are doing a good job. And any media that continually posts about a traffic jam in NJ is doomed. Like I give a rats ass about an east coast traffic jam. Hey we had a major traffic jam this weekend in Seattle because they shut down I 5 to replace expansion joints right when the boat show was starting and some event was going on in the stadium district. Want to read about it for 2 weeks?

  13. Propertius says:

    My leg is tingling already – good thing the bathroom is close by.

  14. threewickets says:

    So Ezra and Matt are joining up with Vox Media the company founded by Marcos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong (the MyDD guy) and fueled by SB Nation (the very profitable world of sports blogging). The lefty blogosphere and juicebox mafia have a new sponsor…the commercial sports industrial complex. Peter Beinart’s “new new left” seems to be growing. 🙂

    • The Klown says:

      IOW – they can’t sell their primary product so they subsidize it with something people are actually interested in reading.

    • 49erDweet says:

      For several years the NFL has been edging leftwise. Trying to be subtle about it, but still moving. Dumb. Jocks aren’t completely stupid, so there will be trouble ahead.

    • Constance says:

      They need to start making professional men’s sports pay taxes like the rest of us. Not only do we taxpayers pay for their play palaces we have to pay higher taxes because they don’t pay any.

  15. The Klown says:
    • jeffhas says:

      When exactly was wealth ‘distributed’… With a little hard work, you can earn your own money, save some – pass it along to your heirs, who can then use it to finance business or opportunities for greater wealth to pass on to their heirs.

      Isn’t that what the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, etc did? – oh wait, they ran booze during prohibition, and raped the land for oil and minerals – but back then, it was OK… especially if they became guilt-ridden after they were incredibly wealthy. So now, the rest of us aren’t suppose to work hard for those things – we’re suppose to wait in line for Uncle Sugar to give us what he has decided we are allowed to have.

      • The Klown says:

        Once upon a time, a lamb, a cat, a pig, and a little red hen lived on an old farm on a flowery hill surrounded by fields of golden wheat. One day, the Little Red Hen found some grains of wheat scattered in the barnyard. “Look what I’ve found!” she said to the other animals. “Who will help me plant these grains of wheat?”

        “Not I!” said the lamb.

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. She knew that seeds need water to grow tall and strong. “Who will help me water these seeds?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “Not I!” said the lamb.

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen watered the soil and waited patiently for the wheat to grow. When the wheat was tall and golden, she knew it was ready to be cut. “Who will help me harvest the wheat?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “Not I!” said the lamb.

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen’s basket was soon filled with wheat. “Who will help me take the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “Not I!” said the lamb

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The kind miller ground the wheat into powdery, velvety flour, and the Little Red Hen carried it home in a rough brown sack. “Who will help me make this flour into bread?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “Not I!” said the lamb.

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen mixed the flour into sticky dough and kneaded it into a smooth loaf. “Who will help me put this bread into the oven to bake?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “Not I!” said the lamb.

        “Not I!” said the cat.

        “Not I!” said the pig.

        “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The kitchen filled with the delicious scent of baking bread, and the other animals came to see what was happening. The Little Red Hen took the warm, crusty loaf out of the oven, and set it on the table. “Who will help me eat this fresh, tasty bread?” asked the Little Red Hen.

        “I will!” said the lamb.

        “I will!” said the cat.

        “I will!” said the pig.

        “No, you will not,” said the Little Red Hen. “You didn’t help me plant it, or water it, or harvest it, or mill it, or bake it. I shall eat it myself!” And so she did.

  16. The Klown says:

    I’d tell her what I think but I’ve already been suspended from Twitter twice this month.

  17. 49erDweet says:

    97% of people are in favor of wealth redistribution. The other 3% moved their money to Aruba or Belize or Grenada already.

    • DandyTIger says:

      I’m OK with a progressive tax structure, and with things like raising or dropping the cap of SS so the wealthy pay more into SS. Even though those aren’t really the best solutions if you do the math. But the idea of going into people’s bank account and taking it and giving it to others isn’t going to have the effect the new Dems think it will.

      We’re sitting on a big house of cards, and they are playing with fire if they keep this stuff up. It’s very easy to move liquid assets out of the country. If the people in power keep talking like this, and you have brains and do the math, you’ll see that the US isn’t the best place to keep your investments and businesses.

      • 49erDweet says:

        IMO our “betters” don’t spend enough time at airports. Just studying the arrival board maze and multiplying each flight by 200 should teach any thinking person a lesson in economic liquidity. But I eliminated them with that “thinking person”, didn’t I?

  18. The Klown says:

    You know you’re in trouble as a Democratic candidate when even MSLSD is lukewarm about defending you:

  19. The Klown says:
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  22. DeniseVB says:

    Fun Grammys review by MOTUS…..


    WARNING: Includes a vine of Beyonce that may cause cannon polishing 😀

  23. The Klown says:
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  25. The Klown says:

    Pope Francis on Saturday lauded women for their sensitivity toward the society’s weak and “gifts” like intuition, insisting they take on greater responsibilities in the Catholic church, as well as in professional and public spheres.

    Francis was full of praise about female talent and untapped potential in a speech at the Vatican to an Italian women’s group. But the pope gave no sign that the Vatican glass ceiling against ordaining women for the priesthood might see some cracks during his papacy.

    BREAKING NEWS: The Pope is still Catholic.

  26. The Klown says:

    Gee Dave, what have you learned in the past five years?

  27. piper says:

    O.T. Can you believe this stuff
    A woman in South Carolina reported that her ‘obama phone’ had been stolen

    And now for MessNBC – andrea and ruth marcus talking about Monica Lewisky. It was Monica’s fault for enticing Billy C. – she showed off her thong whenever she moved.

    I think I’ll go and shovel my driveway again. The sun is out and temp.is -3.

  28. The Klown says:
  29. helenk3 says:


    now why is this NOT a surprise???

    backtrack political bunch hamper FOIA process

  30. helenk3 says:


    wapo poll 52% support backtrack using executive orders to bypass congress on his legislative goals

    have we really dumbed down and doped up the American population that much?
    if so we are so screwed

  31. helenk3 says:


    Ty Wood’s father will be at the SOTU speech. I hope he gets a seat in the front row and just stares at backtrack

  32. The Klown says:


    This generic Walmart brand of medicated powder has way too much “medicated” in it. IYKWIMAITYD

  33. The Klown says:

    Amanda Marcotte:

    Is the anti-choice movement giving up the pretense that it has no interest in policing women’s sexuality and only opposes abortion rights because of fetal life? While the rote use of the word “life” as a code word to describe a series of anti-woman and anti-sex beliefs is probably going nowhere, there does seem to be a bit more willingness among anti-choicers lately to admit that what really offends them is that women are having sex without their permission.

    • DandyTIger says:

      She’s special. Of course there’s anti-women, anti-sex in the mix among a few crazies, but pretending like there isn’t a big, tough life issue is just as crazy.

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