Type of site
|Alexa rank||909 (as of August 2016[update])|
|Launched||April 6, 2014|
Vox is an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media. The website was founded in 2014 by Ezra Klein. Vox is noted for its concept of explanatory journalism and its use of "card stacks" that define terms and provide context within an article.
Ezra Klein left The Washington Post in January 2014 for a position with Vox Media, the publishers of the sports website SB Nation, technology website The Verge, and video gaming website Polygon. The New York Times described Vox Media as "a technology company that produces media" rather than its inverse, associated with "Old Media". Klein expected to "improve the technology of news" and build an online platform better equipped for making news understandable. The new site's 20-person staff was chosen for their expertise in topic areas and included Slate's Matthew Yglesias, Melissa Bell, and Klein's colleagues from The Washington Post.
Vox launched in early April 2014 with Klein as its editor-in-chief. His opening editorial essay, "How politics makes us stupid", explained his distress about political polarization in the context of Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan's theories on how people protect themselves from information that conflicts with their core beliefs.
As of August 2015, Vox Media, which owns Vox, had received funding valuing it at over $1 billion, thus becoming a startup unicorn. Of this amount, $200 million came from NBCUniversal, $100 million from the venture arm of Comcast (NBC Universal's parent company), and $46.8 million from General Atlantic. Other investors included Accel Partners, Allen & Company, Khosla Ventures, and former AOL executive Ted Leonsis.
In June 2016, Vox suspended contributor Emmett Rensin for a series of tweets calling for anti-Trump riots, including one on June 3, 2016 that urged, "If Trump comes to your town, start a riot." The tweets drew attention after violent anti-Trump protests took place in San Jose, California on the day of Rensin's tweet.
In order to reuse work from authors prior to the relaunch in 2014, Vox creates "card stacks" in bright "canary yellow" that provide context and define terms within an article. The cards are perpetually maintained as a form of "wiki page written by one person with a little attitude". As an example, a card about the term "insurance exchange" may be reused on stories about the Affordable Care Act.
The site uses Vox Media's Chorus content management system, which enables journalists to easily create articles with complex visual effects and transitions, such as photos that change as the reader scrolls. Vox Media's properties target educated households with six-figure incomes and a head of house less than 35 years old.
Vox has a YouTube channel by the same name where they regularly post videos on news and informational subjects. These videos are accompanied by an article on their website. The themes covered in the videos are usually similar to the themes covered in the regular, written articles on the website.
The channel has over 1.95 million subscribers and over 385 million views as of March 2017.
The website's launch received significant media attention. Websites noted that the launch came around the same time as other data and explainer websites like FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times' The Upshot. Vox was described as using "Upworthy" style headlines to enhance shareability and to act as a "Wikipedia for ongoing news stories."
Shortly after it launched, conservative writer David Harsanyi criticized the site's concept of "explanatory journalism" in an article in The Federalist titled "How Vox makes us stupid", arguing that the website selectively chose facts, and that "explanatory journalism" inherently leaves out opposing viewpoints and different perspectives. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at The Week argued that the website produced "partisan commentary in question-and-answer disguise" and criticized the site for having a "starting lineup [that] was mostly made up of ideological liberals." The Week's Ryu Spaeth described the site's operations as, "It essentially takes the news (in other words, what is happening in the world at any given moment in time) and frames it in a way that appeals to its young, liberal audience."
The Economist, commenting on Klein's launching essay "How politics makes us stupid," said the website was "bright and promising" and the premise behind the site was "profoundly honourable," and positively compared the site's mission to John Keats's negative capability.
The New York Times's David Carr associated Klein's exit for Vox with other "big-name journalists" leaving newspapers for digital start-ups, such as Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher (Re/code), David Pogue, and Nate Silver.
In December 2014, the website Deadspin wrote a post listing each time Vox ran a correction for a factual error in an article. In The Washington Times, journalist Christopher J. Harper criticized the site for numerous reporting mistakes.
In 2015, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry presented Julia Belluz the Robert B. Balles Prize for Critical Thinking for her work on Vox. "We need more people in the media doing what Julia Bellux does ..."
In 2016, after Donald Trump was elected US president, Glenn Greenwald criticized media including Vox for "suppressing reporting that reflects negatively on [the Democratic Party] and instead confin[ing] itself to hagiography" in the run-up and aftermath of the election.
In June 2015, Vox had 54.1 million unique visitors, of which 41% were between the ages of 18 and 34, according to comScore Inc.