He also expresses what strikes me as a rather optimistic view of Web production imperatives. He says that while newspapers were tethered to the daily new cycle—“The constraint of newness was crucial”—the Web…
has no such limits. There’s space to tell people both what happened today and what happened that led to today. But the software newsrooms have adopted in the digital age has too often reinforced a workflow built around the old medium. We’ve made the news faster, more beautiful, and more accessible. But in doing we’ve carried the constraints of an old technology over to a new one.
But, the Web has brought revolutionary changes to journalism (and many things) that have smashed old constraints in many ways, but as I’ve written, it has not necessarily bought journalists any more of their most precious resource: time.
Also, it’s worth remembering that while Vox is a departure for Klein, Klein & Co. are also a departure for Vox. Until now, Vox has carefully chosen its areas of strength, and so far those have tended to be specialized areas of consumer interest: tech, sports, games, fashion, real estate, and food. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But one the great conundrums of the era of digital disruption has been how to make the news itself pay. Politico believes it has found the answer to the problem of delivering public-interest news in the digital age, and yet many readers do not find it a particularly satisfying answer. Talking Points Memo has made spectacular go of it. Buzzfeed and Business Insider are generating enormous traffic numbers. But none of those are what Wonkblog was about or what Klein is describing. This will be new.
Ezra Klein told David Carr that the goal of the site is to go beyond politics and policy and serve as a prism on the rest of the news. That sounds valuable. The question is whether it can also be profitable.
It is beyond question that a new generation of digital journalism has arrived. The growth of Vox, for instance, feels measured, deliberate, and organic. Now it is about to learn whether its model and popularity can be translated to policy analysis and some as-yet-to-be-determined take on public-interest news.