A week after Ezra Klein officially broke up with the Washington Post, he announced on Sunday night that he’s founding a news site at Vox Media, home of SB Nation, The Verge, Eater, Curbed, Racked, and Polygon. The site is currently being referred to as “Project X,” but despite the mysterious name, Klein has plenty to say about his vision for the project. In a post on The Verge, Klein says that in the past, journalists were forced to focus only on the day’s events due to space limitations in newspapers, and this outdated thinking has transferred over to online journalism. “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,” he writes. “Our mission is to create a site that’s as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it.”
Klein will be joined at the site by Post colleagues Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews, as well as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, and he announced they’re already hiring. The job description offers a few more details about Project X:
We’ll have regular coverage of everything from tax policy to True Detective, but instead of letting that reporting gather dust in an archive, we’ll use it to build and continuously update a comprehensive set of explainers of the topics we cover. We want to create the single best resources for news consumers anywhere.
We’ll need writers who are obsessively knowledgeable about their subjects to do that reporting and write those explainers – as well as ambitious feature pieces. We’ll need D3 hackers and other data viz geniuses who can explain the news in ways words can’t. We’ll need video producers who can make a two-minute cartoon that summarizes the Volcker rule perfectly. We’ll need coders and designers who can build the world’s first hybrid news site/encyclopedia. And we’ll need people who want to join Vox’s great creative team because they believe in making ads so beautiful that our readers actually come back for them too.
One thing that remains unclear is why the Post’s new owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wasn’t interested in backing Klein’s attempt to find a more innovative approach to online news. In the New York Times, David Carr suggests that since the paper has “long-festering problems with its core business,” putting time and a considerable amount of money (Klein reportedly wanted an eight-figure investment) into building another brand “would be a major distraction.”
Bezos hasn’t commented on the matter, and Klein suggests the split was amicable. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Klein said their the talks were “super friendly and helpful,” adding that he has “the deepest respect and gratitude to the Post for my years there.” But mainly, he wanted to praise his new employer. “I trust them more than I trust myself or any of my team to build awesome tech and design teams and exquisite platforms,” he said of his Vox Media colleagues, adding, “already they’re making us smarter.”