Here’s how Playboy magazine contributing writer David Hochman sums up the healthy state of Vox Media at the top of his interview with 32-year-old company co-founder Ezra Klein in the May/June issue of Playboy, hitting newsstands today: ‘Vox’s articles, how-tos, videos, podcasts and content collections (known as “card stacks”) draw more millennials than free wi-fi at a Grumpy Cat convention.’
He’s also got a funny description of Irvine, Calif. native Klein, whom he spent time with in Washington D.C. He classifies his interview subject as ‘antsy and good-looking in a Clark-Kent-searching-for-a-phone-booth sort of way.’ What makes this throwaway portraiture especially funny of course is the wink-wink phone-booth reference.
In the transcribed Q&A, there’s lots of interesting dialogue about Trump, politics and the left vs. right. From a more media-centric POV, this is one of the passages that caught our attention. It comes after Klein asks Hochman if the journalist has seen Vox’s “rap music explainer” video:
Playboy: Yes. It’s a brilliant video. The breakdown on internal rhymes, multisyllabic rhymes, cross-the-bar lines. It really shows how hard it is to make rap look easy.
Klein: It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. It’s one of the best things any human being has ever done. The explainer approach is an approach to information that we can apply to anything, not just rap and not just politics or foreign affairs. It works everywhere, and it can be on anything. We get massive engagement and readership on Apple News. On YouTube, we have more than 130 million minutes of watch time a month with an average watch of over three minutes and 30 seconds. Think about that. The average time somebody spends on a video of ours on YouTube is more than three and a half minutes. In a world where everybody is constantly complaining about attention spans, that is amazing. And others are appropriating it now.
Klein: I’ve noticed The New York Times is learning a lot from Vox. I take this as high praise, but they’ve hired a few of our people and have made runs at a number more. Explanatory journalism is now a thing for them. I take a lot of pride in that. The New York Times is an amazing institution.
Klein’s thoughts about the negative impact of social media are also sure to be widely propagated in the next few days. We’ve long been fans of Hochman’s writing and interviewing; some previous items about his work are linked below.