4 min

Ezra Klein speaks about Vox and the media

Excerpts from an interview published Apr 11, 2014 at nymag.com titled Ezra Klein on Vox’s Launch, Media Condescension, and Competing With Wikipedia, which contains unsurprising observations about the media's views on anything new in the media business.

Q: The cards have come in for a little bit of mockery already from media people — things like “What is marijuana?” and “What is the internet?” How do you decide where the line is for how basic these are going to get, in terms of subject matter?

EK: We want them very basic. I am ecstatic over that kind of mockery. If media professionals look at this and think, That’s ridiculous, I already know all of this, that’s wonderful for us. It’s great on two levels. One is that if we are not aiming beneath our colleagues’ knowledge level, we’re making a huge mistake. We’re leaving tons of readers behind. Two: The more folks in the media feel like it’s beneath them to answers questions like, “What is marijuana?” or “What is Ukraine?” the more we don’t have to compete with them. You don’t have to read everything; there’s a table of contents.

EK: A lot of the idea is that the card stacks add value to the news coverage. And the news coverage creates curiosity that leads people to the card stacks. The idea is that things work together rather than just trying to compete with Wikipedia or just trying to compete with news outlets. We have two products that help make the other one better.


Q: Can you explain — in the most concrete terms possible, like a Vox explainer — what’s so great about Chorus, the company’s content management system?

EK: I cannot. In part, because some of it is beyond me. We’re dealing with a really, really powerful technology for how to publish things. But more broadly because there are cool things that if Vox Media would like to reveal as a corporate matter, that should be up to them.


Q: Have you been surprised at all at the shift from hyping you and Nate Silver as saviors of journalism to trying take you down a peg now that you’re the bosses?

EK: I’ve been on the internet for a little while now. I’ve seen this stuff come and go. My view on this stuff is that you’ve gotta step back a little bit and not get too hyped. There is a world in which we can launch and have a terrible reception from the media but end up being a wildly successful website. Think back a couple years to BuzzFeed, which was initially mocked. It’s a juggernaut right now.

EK: I think a problem is journalism is being overly concerned with writing for other journalists. Twitter, in particular. Journalists have so engaged on Twitter and it’s so empowering and gratifying to write an article your peers really enjoy that you can forget that your peers are very different from your readers. It can be a little bit problematic.


Q: Anything else?

EK: The big thing I would say is that for all of these new organizations, for us, for Nate, for Glenn [Greenwald], for Kara [Swisher] and [Walt Mossberg] over at Recode, and not just the new organizations — Businessweek just brought in Justin Smith, The Atlantic is launching new verticals pretty rapidly, Quartz is just over a year old — you’ve gotta give this stuff some time to play out.

EK: People are just constantly pronouncing on business strategies or content strategies. We’re all going to be different organizations a year from now than we are today.

EK: People should judge the content, but the thing that has been most striking to me is how rapidly we are learning. It is just like drinking from a fire hose every day. I think a lot of cool things are going to happen in the broader world of media in the next year or two or five years.

EK: Sometimes I read this stuff and I’m just stunned by the pessimism in it. I’m just stunned by how much people feel like nothing is ever going to work out. Meanwhile, we have blog posts and feature articles that are getting literally millions of views from people they never could have reached before.

EK: I’m super excited. I think other people should be a little more excited, too.

#media - #startup - #design - #blog_jr

By JR - 731 words
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