Missing Comma: “What is Vox? And Why Should Anyone Care?”

This week’s blog topic is derived from a tweet posted by Dave Zirin earlier this week, following new media site and Ezra Klein vessel Vox posting a silly and weightless article about Solange Knowles beating up on Jay Z in an elevator titled, “Who Is Solange? And Why Is She Attacking Jay Z?”

The article doesn’t really answer the second question, as at the time, no one really knew why past rumor and speculation. But past that, the article is really just… uninformative. We’re apparently supposed to care (and/or not… care? What is happening) about the incident at the Met Gala because Solange is Beyonce’s sister, and Bey was recently listed as one of the most influential people by Time Magazine, and then there are memes and reposted photos from TMZ and…

Is this what new media is supposed to look like?

Vox debuted mere weeks ago, on March 30, to limited fanfare; it’s part of the same media group that hosts the fantastic tech site The Verge and video game site Polygon, and its launch was sponsored by General Electric. According to their “About” page, Vox is building their site in public, “listening to your feedback and learning as we grow.” Its mission? “Explain the news.”

So far, they’ve “voxsplained” Common Core (including an article listing all the ways in which Louis C.K. is wrong about it), net neutrality and Benghazi, among other subjects; they’ve also done hard hitting journalism on… otter necrophilia.

So far, color me unimpressed, and a little bit queasy.

When we talk about new media, and celebrity-journalist-centered media specifically, we tend to be optimistic that a given vehicle is going to highlight the good points of a particular writer’s work. With The Intercept, we focus on Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras’s writing on government surveillance. With FiveThirtyEight, we want good political statistics. With Vox, what are we getting? After the first month, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot. Mostly, it just reminds me of the overly-curious personality sphere you have to kill from Portal.

Ezra Klein has gathered together a pretty hefty team of writers to work for him at Vox, including Matthew Yglesias and Zach Beauchamp. But so far, the results have brought a less-interesting Buzzfeed to bear, not a new media franchise blazing new ground. Also, otter necrophilia.


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