Ezra Klein Promises ‘Context’ With New Publication [Updated]
January 27, 2014

Ezra Klein has announced that he is starting a new publication with Vox Media, a media company that owns The Verge and SB Nation, among other media brands.

Klein has been known to some as the “Prince of D.C. Media” and was behind the popular Wonkblog and Know More sites at The Washington Post.

In a Sunday night post on The Verge, Klein wrote that he is starting the publication with Slate’s Matt Yglesias, along with Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews, who were among those at the Post “instrumental” in the workings of Wonkblog and Know More, according to a memo the paper sent out on the departure, published this month on Poynter.

Press contacts at The Verge and Vox Media were not immediately available for comment Monday morning.

Klein announced Jan. 24 via Wonkblog he would be leaving the paper, a move that occurred after the paper declined to pursue his proposal to create a new site, which The New York Times reported would’ve been “affiliated with the Post, but …. a separate enterprise.”

Klein was asking for $8 million and total autonomy, according to David Folkenflik of NPR.

Trevor Butterworth, former editor of the media criticism website NewsWatch.org and a regular contributor at publications including The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.com, said The Washington Post could have made its decision based on declining Wonkblog numbers, but it’s difficult to say without any data.

“We don’t know what data analytics The Washington Post has on Wonkblog and certainly Vox does not know what sort of data analytics The Washington Post had on Wonkblog,” said Butterworth, who wrote a post on Klein’s departure for The Awl, a news and culture website based in New York. “The thing I would be most worried about if I were either Vox or Ezra Klein is if [Owner Jeff] Bezos and [Executive Editor Martin] Baron looked at that sort of granular data and decided having looked at that not to his accept his offer.”

Klein “never presented his idea directly” to Bezos and “there were also no direct discussions about the cost of the operation,” The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Butterworth said he would have stayed at The Washington Post if he were in Klein’s position.

“I think The Post has the most imaginative, no, let me think of the right superlative, actually, I think they have a publisher that exceeds superlatives,” he said in an interview with American Journalism Review. “He [Jeff Bezos] went to so many old traditional industries and effectively gave them the finger and made billions. I would want to work for that person.”

[Below, Klein speaks about climate change. He has announced that he will be leaving The Washington Post and starting a new publication with Vox Media.]

Klein told Washington Post columnist Paul Fahri on Sunday that his new site would launch in the spring and cover a broader array of topics than the policy news covered by Wonkblog, including “cultural topics and sports.”

Klein is among a group of star journalists who have departed major news organizations for other opportunities, including Nate Silver, who left The New York Times to run his FiveThiryEight blog on ESPN, and Andrew Sullivan, who left the Daily Beast to start his own blog, The Dish.

Klein did not immediately return a request for comment Monday morning via Twitter. He told David Carr of The New York Times that his move is geared towards helping people better understand the news.

“We are not just trying to scale Wonkblog, we want to improve the technology of news, and Vox has a vision of how to solve some of that,” he told Carr.

In his post on The Verge, Klein wrote about how producing news for a printed product influenced the content. Even in the digital age, he said, the software newsrooms use still “reinforced a workflow built around the old medium.”

“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,” Klein wrote. “Our mission is to create a site that’s as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2:34 p.m. Jan. 27.   


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