Vox, Ezra Klein’s New Website, Is Here To Cram Vegetables Down Your Throat Until You Understand News

Back in January, economics blogger Ezra Klein ditched WaPo because they’ wouldn’t give him $10 million to make his own website, so he took his toys and left. Then, he somehow had enough money to hire literally everybody for his new venture. Now it’s here, and it is excitement personified. Ladies and gentlemen, Vox, starring Ezra Klein.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thYfAPrN72Q

Oh hello here is some stock footage of news! Not actual news, but The News, like pictures of the CNN ticker thingy. And here is Ezra Klein explaining…so…SLOWLY…nope…EVEN SLOWER… how most of news is like vegetables. Wait what?

Here is Melissa Bell. Maybe she can clear this up. Now the news is exciting, which may or may not be like a vegetable, and it is an exciting time to read, or eat, or both maybe.

EXCITING FLASH CUT TO SOMEONE GOOGLING A THING.

Right now, this is like watching a montage of a police procedural where they want to convey that they are On The Internet investigating.

Hi Ezra! You’re back! We weren’t missing you. Apparently the news in the past has made Ezra sad and anxious, because he knew he was going to feel stupid. And you feel stupid too, don’t you? You do not Understand The News because you are only reading the news. You need Vox to come social media and multimedia all over your face and then you will know what news is.

Ezra, you are gone again, and it is like the sun passed behind a cloud. Maybe we’ll feel better now that Matty Yglesias is talking and is really showing us how to be bold about our pattern mixing.

Vox__Understand_the_news_-_YouTube

Actually, Matty, to be honest someone in your life should have warned you that sportcoat is not for you AND that you should have used a skinnier knot on your tie AND that you needed to fasten your tie all the tippy top way up your shirt before going on camera. Anyway! Matty is telling us how the web is forever, but not everyone writes like the web is forever, but Vox will write like the web is forever, because in the thank-god-normally-paced words of Matty, they are going to create the single greatest resource for people to understand the issues that are in the news.

So the entire site is not news, but Ezra explaining the news to us? Like you’re locked in a room with a self-styled wonk policy person who won’t let you leave because he hasn’t made you understand what’s REALLY happening in Ukraine, man? This does not sound like a thing we wanted or needed, since most of us understand the news by READING THE NEWS.

Now here are some graphics bouncing around on your screen like someone at Vox got ahold of Prezi instead of Power Point and is really taking presentation skills to a whole new level.

Vox__Understand_the_news_-_YouTube 2

Ezra again, to tell you that right now when you read the news you are dumb, and you only understand 20%, maybe 25% on a good day, but with his exciting new web thingy, they will give you context so you understand things right away! OHEMGEE GAME CHANGER! Who has ever thought about providing context to the news before? Only Ezra Klein, that’s who.

Your entire media project — for which people gave you a kazillion dollars — is based on the premise that if you tell people they are too dumb to understand other news, they will flock to you for news. This seems a wee bit unsound to us. Perhaps the glorious inaugural post of Vox will explain it better than the video.

The media is excellent at reporting the news and pretty good at adding commentary atop the news. What’s lacking is an organization genuinely dedicated to explaining the news. That is to say, our end goal isn’t telling you what just happened, or how we feel about what just happened, it’s making sure you understand what just happened.

Nope. Still sounds like you don’t think we’re smart enough to read the news all by our lonesome like big kids. Perhaps you should give us some sort of example of the type of posts you will be doing, Vox.

Can you give me an example?

This article is an example. It tries to identify the main questions you might have about Vox and answer them in a clear, logically structured way. At the beginning is the most obvious, most important thing people might want to know about Vox rather than the latest scoop. This article contains news — we’re announcing our name, Vox, when up until now, we’ve only called ourselves Project X — but the new information isn’t the point. The point is to leave you with a better understanding of what we’re trying to do with Vox.

This article contains news! About Vox! Oh thank god. Without that context, we’d never know how to find out if this was an article about Vox. Perhaps if you return to the unfortunate vegetables metaphor we’ll begin to really understand the news or how to cook vegetables or something.

In journalism, you’ll sometimes hear articles about hard topics referred to as “vegetables” or “the spinach” — the idea being that readers don’t like those subjects but they should be reading about them anyway. Our view is that there’s no important topic that can’t be made interesting to the audience. If we’re writing about something important — something that matters in people’s lives — and we’ve made it boring then that failure is on us, not on our readers.

Vegetables can be cooked poorly. But they can also be roasted to perfection with a drizzle of olive oil and hint of sea salt. It’s our job to experiment with all kinds of preparations: Feature articles, traditional news articles, Q&As, FAQs, graphics, videos (you saw the one above, right?), visualizations, and even faux-conversations like this one. It means being willing to adopt a tone that isn’t intimidating and being honest that we’re also trying to figure this stuff out.

Ezra, how many times do we have to tell you: WE ARE NOT SCARED OF THE NEWS! We are also not scared of vegetables, mostly because we are grown people and already knew how to roast or saute them. Perhaps this site is actually for children?

An explanation of how other country’s health-care systems work — or even how our country’s health-care system works — probably won’t contain much new information but it’ll contain a lot of important information that’s new to most people. We’re not going to get caught up in talmudic debates about what does and doesn’t count as “news.”

Was anyone starting a talmudic debate on this? The rest of us have understood since we were old enough to skim the New York Times that sometimes news is about new things that are happening, and sometimes news is longform journalism or a pretty pretty bunch of graphics designed to give us a deep dive (we can’t believe we just had to say that) into a topic.

So, let’s sum up: you are dumb, but Ezra Klein is not dumb, and he will explain the news to you. Also, the news is like a vegetable, but it can be a delicious vegetable. Also too Matty Yglesias badly needs Tim Gunn to come show him that you can be bold about fashion without looking like a doofus. We think we’ve got it, but maybe Vox will have to do another post just for us to be sure. We await, breathlessly.

[Vox]

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  • mweissa2

    An explanation of how other country’s health-care systems work…Personally I’d be satisfied with an explanation of how possessive plurals work.

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  • Vox News! Vair and Balanced!

  • Ambignostic

    I’m not scared of the news or vegetables, but I’m scared that a link to “vox.com” is going to be an article by Vox Day.

  • So basically Ezra is Cliffs Notes-ing all the news all the time?

  • Roket

    There’s a link for that.

  • La Cieca

    I say it’s news, and I say the hell with it.

  • “the unfortunate vegetables metaphor” is now my forever name for Vox

    • msanthropesmr

      Also, good hipster band name.

  • matt yglesias has been angling to be a mediocre op-ed writer whenever tom friedman or charles krauthammer is cryogenically frozen and stored for future upload. i believe this is a stepping stone on that path, and i look forward to my future impotent rage at some inane shit that he writes.

  • nomoremister

    Recently I’ve started to think that the rising autistic spectrum/nerd culture is actually evolution at work: these people are excessively cerebral mutants and they’re going to keep breeding with their own kind until they form a new species, Homo geekicus. I thought maybe this was a crazy idea — but now that I’ve watched this video, I’m pretty sure I’m on to something.

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    • You’re assuming that they’ll breed, and that their attention span will be sufficient to keep any result alive. Not really a safe assumption.

  • MS47

    A rotten tomato is a vegetable, right? Right, Ezra? There. Made you say it.

    • mediabob

      I think you meant “fruit”. No, not sexually – tomatoes are fruit.

  • AncienReggie

    Mr. Yglesias needs to reconsider his wardrobe. I can’t even ignore a man wearing that tie/jacket ensemble.

  • minneapolisgirl

    And then there’s that Trey guy, with the modified Tintin haircut and…what, a beard?

  • SullivanSt

    Clinton Kelly is probably available if Gunn isn’t.So, Ezra’s brand strategy is condescension? Not quite Gerald Ratner levels, but I somehow doubt the end result will be much different.

  • TheLifeSilica

    OK, journalists: Have you EVER heard someone use “vegetables” or “spinach” when referring to boring news? I’ve sat through thousands of afternoon newspaper meetings, and not once have I heard that term.

    • rebecca

      Never. Not once in … carry the one … 23 years? OH MY GOD, 23 YEARS????

  • myexisinthetrunk

    …but, but they will have articles parsing the daring prose poems of Grifter Snowbunny, right?

  • MichaelG

    I tried watching the video but couldn’t even make it to Yglesias’ “sportcoat of many colors.”

  • Keedly

    They should just make every single news story and infographic. There, you’re welcome, Vox.

  • Caelan Aegana

    Vox is going to be the Soylent Green of journalism.

  • Robert Weiler

    I’m not going to dump on them before they actually produce any content based on an advertisement. There is actually a really easy way to improve the news; don’t print anything a politician says unless it is in response to an unscripted question. In fact, don’t cover them at all if they aren’t willing to answer unscripted questions. When they do answer an unscripted question, the journalist should then provide a ‘real world’ translation. For example when Paul Ryan says ‘reform Medicaid’ and his actual proposal is to ‘cut Medicaid’ then the journalist should inform the reader that Ryan is in fact proposing to cut Medicaid instead of allowing him to use his weasel word. It isn’t rocket science.

  • marindenver

    OK, I have actually never clicked on an article with the feeling that I was going to be too dumb to understand it. Maybe it’s just me but . . . is Vox the “People” of ackshual news?? Just thinking I probably won’t be following this venture too closely.

  • Wait, so a bunch of white people from Ivy League schools whose experiences are limited to hanging around DC are going to report the news with a heavy dose of authoritarianism? Why, with a strategy this refreshing, it can’t lose!