If you can’t beat them, write a media criticism piece about them

With all the big news stories this summer — racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Iraq, Ukraine, and Gaza — a site like Vox seemed destined for success. Those stories cry out for explanation, context, perspective. Vox does its best to offer that, and it has seen some promising traffic numbers. But industry sources say the site has yet to demonstrate a novel or innovative approach, much less show that it can be an essential destination for news consumers.

In Vox not living up the hype, explained

And then Dylan Byers of Politico proceeds to contradict his entire thesis. Vox’s traffic is at 9 million readers, its editorial forms are new and experimental and its coverage of Ferguson has been must-read and indispensable on a fast-moving story. Byers also soft-pedals how other media organizations hustled to create their own explainer verticals before Vox even launched. If Vox doesn’t seem to have changed the media landscape in the last four months, it’s because its effects were felt in the three months prior.

I have my own issues with Vox – more than a few embedded-tweets-as-articles diminish its value as an analytical, completist source – but Politico doesn’t make any of its criticisms stick. So much so that if Ezra Klein wanted to respond with the schoolyard taunt of “I’m rubber, you’re glue…” then he’d be justified.

In Slate, Dave Weigel provides further evidence that this is more about Politico trying to undercut a potential long-term competitor.

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