Ask Ezra Klein what prompted him to leave a high-profile position at The Washington Post to start a new website, and the answer is a little wonkish, even for the founder of the newspaper’s Wonkblog, a mix of politics, economics and domestic policy that had become must reading in the Beltway.
It was, in essence, about content management systems, Mr. Klein said.
“We were badly held back not just by the technology, but by the culture of journalism,” he said of daily newspapers, as he offered a preview of his new site, Vox.com, which was scheduled to be introduced Sunday night.
While The Post is an excellent publication, he said, he felt that the conventions of newspaper print journalism in general, with its commitment to incremental daily coverage, were reflected in publishing systems, which need first and foremost to meet the needs of printing a daily paper. And he wanted to create something entirely new, which is why he and two Post colleagues ended up at Vox Media, a rising digital empire that includes sites like SB Nation and The Verge. Vox, he said, had the tools he was seeking.
“At our first meeting, we knew we were going here,” he said. “They had the technology we thought we were inventing.”
Wonkblog, which will remain the property of The Post, had established Mr. Klein, 29, as a prominent voice in the capital, and was a formidable driver of traffic. So in January, when he and his colleagues announced they would join Vox Media with the aim of creating a site bigger and broader than Wonkblog, it seemed to be another watershed in the news business: a moment when young talent began demanding superior technology as the key to producing superior journalism.
Technology has become crucial to every newsroom, of course, but not all technology has been designed equally. News organizations born in the print era have generally knit together disparate systems over the years to produce websites that integrate graphics, social media and reader comments with various degrees of smoothness.
Many all-digital organizations have built their content management systems from the ground up with the Internet in mind. That strategy, many say, produces a more organic melding of journalism and technology.
The result is an increasingly dynamic publishing universe where sites like Vox, Vice and BuzzFeed, and new enterprises like Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept, are luring seasoned journalists as well as a new generation of storytellers.
In this high-tech universe, Vox Media’s content management system — which even has its own name, Chorus, and is used to publish all the company’s websites — has earned recognition. It is credited with having a toolset that allows journalists to edit and illustrate their copy in dramatic fashion, promote their work on social media, and interact with readers — all seamlessly and intuitively.
Source: New York Times