On Ezra Klein’s new adventure

Hmm, I’m really not sure about this at all:

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.

Reimagining the way we explain the news means reinventing newsroom technology. Vox is already home to modern media brands —  SB Nation, The Verge, Eater, Curbed, Racked, and Polygon — that are loved by tens of millions of people, including us. The engine of those sites is a world-class technology platform, Chorus, that blows apart many of the old limitations. And behind Chorus is a world-class design and engineering team that is already helping us rethink the way we power newsrooms and present information.

That’s all very well and of course I wish them every success.

But I fear that they’ve become infected with this very American idea that “the news” is the reason and purpose of the media. You know, this telling truth to power thing, the same thing that leads to would be journalists having to do two year post graduate degrees, the almost laughably pompous manner in which news stories are actually written over there.

The entire journalistic culture in the US has missed what I think we still remember over here. The news is just the stuff that fills in the space between the advertisements. To be a journalist is just to be a copy writer that attracts people to the page opposite the Sears display ad. Telling the truth, informing people about the deep background, these might be what gain Pulitzers but they’re not actually what attract the eyeballs upon which the entire enterprise floats.

Yes, sure, I’m being cynical. But righteously so I think.

16 comments on “On Ezra Klein’s new adventure

  1. The Daily Mail does the job of attracting readers to view ads very well with its policy of deliberate mistakes and churnalism and hyping up of non stories about celebs.

  2. Well, they do like to feel terribly important as well.
    But let’s be honest. The stuff fills the spaces between the money earning adverts is simply a form of entertainment. Like all girl beach volleyball or Smith’s concerts. Hell. I could read the local rag & only gain useful information from it from a couple of column inches so what one would benefit from a political comment website must just be the odd vowel.
    Journalists, trombone players, pole dancers. it’s al the same profession.

  3. Journalists don’t do journalism any more. Cynics and sceptics have been replaced by an urge to be seen to be moral, hence the plethora of opinion pieces, bylines, pr cut and paste for various causes. There’s very little hard info in the national rags. I blame graduates for elbowing out the hacks who learned their trade on the job as school leavers. If the advertisers want access to me I’m on the internet now, trawling free blogs. I’ll buy a paper when I need to line the parrot’s cage.

  4. The thing that attracts me to the Mail website is the T&A although, annoyingly, they now pixellate nipples.

  5. “You know, this telling truth to power thing”

    They can’t even do that right. Most of the US media is too busy acting as the propaganda arm of the Obama administration.

    Also, I’d like to think even the sleaziest UK tabloid wouldn’t have behaved like the US media did in the Trayvon Martin case. They were doing their damnest to get George Zimmerman killed.

  6. BraveFart

    You need to try French’cultural’ magazines. Not only do you copious nubile t&a and much else, it is usually accompanied by a risible politico/social/psychological justification from the young French actress concerned.

  7. Vox is already home to modern media brands —  SB Nation, The Verge, Eater, Curbed, Racked, and Polygon

    These titles sound straight out of Nathan Barley. Keep it plastic, yeah?

  8. The funniest part of Ezra’s grand pronouncement is the mention of Matt Yglesias as another like-minded “journalist” seeking to provide “context”… which, of course, provides the necessary context for Ezra’s venture: Thirty-something twats who’ve never done anything other than blog and run their mouths telling everyone else how the world really works.

    Right.

    The fact that Klein’s so clearly in love with himself is going to make the watching of this turkey doing the ol’ crash and burn all the more satisfying for those of us who aren’t thirty something and actually have done something other than blog and run our mouths.

  9. Dennis the Peasant – “The funniest part of Ezra’s grand pronouncement is the mention of Matt Yglesias as another like-minded “journalist” seeking to provide “context”… which, of course, provides the necessary context for Ezra’s venture: Thirty-something twats who’ve never done anything other than blog and run their mouths telling everyone else how the world really works.”

    The funniest part is that he has got the old Journolist crew together. Apparently they were not worth employing. How much manipulation of the media can they do when they are doing it in the open?

    In other news, the MSM knew about and sat on a story of Clinton cheating on Hilary again in 2008. What a surprise.

    The most interesting thing is who Bezos is replacing the little sh!t with. Rumour has it Volkh has got a gig. So they seem to be going in a more …. liberal direction. And by that I mean libertarian. You know, a real liberal.

    Maybe Bezos is not the dyed in the wool Leftist he looks like. Perhaps he just wants to make a profit.

  10. It’s hard to see where Klein thinks he’s going with this…

    You have HuffPo, KOS, TPM and ThinkProgress presently providing left-leaning “context” to the day’s news. What niche does Klein think is unoccupied at the moment? Does the ‘net really need another Democratic Party propaganda outlet?

    The only untapped niche of lefty readers, it seems to me, are the ones who don’t move their lips when reading. I’m pretty sure there aren’t enough of them (small demographic, to be sure) to make Klein’s venture a paying proposition.

  11. Dennis-

    Klein probably has an inflated/delusional perception of his own value, which is quite commonplace among persons like himself. They tend to believe that they are providing an enormous service to society by fighting for truth and justice, etc, and due to a leftist lack of grasp that economic value is in the minds of individual consumers rather than objective and intrinsic to producers, thereby assume that this imagined self value has enormous wonga potential.

    Hence for instance, the American left’s fury at right wing talk radio, which consumers ascribe considerable subjective value to, when the think that left wing broadcasting “ought” to be the successful kind.

  12. If you run the numbers then Klein’s venture is doomed from the get-go. He asked the WaPo for some unfathomable slab of cash and they told him not to be a bell-end. To get the number of page impressions necessary to fund his folie de grandeur he’d need to ramp up to HuffPo levels of traffic practically instantaneously. As for ‘thirty-something’: he’s 29. He’s a dreadful juvenile little hack and about as punchable as someone can be without being punched literally all the time. If he’s trying to pull in Matt Yglesias then that’s really the final nail in the coffin of the idea that this is a serious enterprise. Yglesias is effectively illiterate. CJ Ciaramella at The Federalist beautifully eviscerated him a while back. The opener:

    All aspiring writers should read Slate’s Matt Yglesias. There’s no better way to stress the importance of not writing like Matt Yglesias.

    Yglesias is Slate’s business and economics blogger, but his real utility is providing teachable moments for would-be opinion writers and high-level ESL students.

    The rest is here.

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