Ezra Klein wants you to eat your vegetables. That is to say, his new venture Vox.com offers ‘explainers’ which aim to make dense, complex news and current affairs stories more palatable to casual browsers who are used to getting their news from BuzzFeed. These explainers take the form of slides and Q&As which will “explain the world as well as report on it.” Current topics being covered and broken down on Vox include Obamacare, and the on-going Ukraine crisis.
The news site launched this week to something of a mixed reception. Klein and co. admitted that the platform is nowhere near where they want it to be: “The site we have today isn’t perfect… Not editorially, not technologically,” the team stated in an opening post. “That’s not because community or navigation or graphics or context aren’t important to us. It’s because they’re important enough to us that we don’t want to do them badly.”
So why launch, when the site is only half formed? The editorial team explains that “We didn’t want to delay the parts of the site we already had…We’re launching today because three more weeks or three more months or 30 more months will not produce a perfect website. We’ll always be a work in progress.”
And ‘work in progress’ is generally the verdict that Vox’s media peers have reached in their initial perusal of the website. Nathaniel Mott at Pando described it as “undercooked”, while Tim Peterson at AdAge acknowledged the potential for integrated advertising in Vox’s card format.
“Basically,” writes Margaret Hartmann at New York Magazine, “it’s like a more attractive Wikipedia page written by one well-informed nerd on the internet rather than many nerds on the internet.”