The Washington Post wunkerkind Ezra Klein ended days of speculation Sunday, announcing that he is joining Vox Media. The founder of the Post's policy site Wonkblog detailed his plans to start up a new news site for Vox (working title Project X) on the online publisher’s tech news site The Verge where he spelled out the challenge that traditional news media have been wrestling with for years: that of adapting legacy models of gathering and reporting news to the limitless Web.
While it’s barely a decade old and will have a long way to go in it establishing itself in general news, Vox has already made a name for itself with its six main brands, including SB Nation, The Verge and Curbed, powered by its technology platform. That the platform apparently was a big part of the appeal for Klein underscores that technology acumen—not just editorial talent—are the name of the game when it comes to building a successful online business these days. As Klein asserts in his post, “Reimagining the way we explain the news means reinventing newsroom technology.” It’s equally telling that in Vox’s call for resumes for the new venture, hackers, coders and “data viz geniuses” rank as high as writers who are obsessive about their subjects.
Klein is the latest example of big-name editorial talent leaving old media for the Web, following the likes of Andrew Sullivan, Nate Silver and Kara Swisher. Joining Klein in the new Vox venture are colleagues Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews, founder of Wonkblog spinoff site Know More; and Slate “Moneybox” blogger Matt Yglesias.
The Post isn't resting in the wake of Klein’s departure. This morning, it announced that it hired National Journal executive editor Adam Kushner as editor of a new digital opinion and analysis venture. And on Friday, the Post announced it would start a new initiative focused on explaining public policy, led by Jim Tankersley. The Post said the still-unnamed project was set to launch in the spring. While these announcements weren’t directly related to Wonkblog, they’re both signs that the Post is trying to bulk up the explainer-type of journalism that Wonkblog became known for under Klein. As for Wonkblog itself, Post business editor Greg Schneider also said the paper would be making new hires to build out the blog.