Mike Hudack is the head of product at Facebook, and therefore a multi-millionaire if not billionaire. But, even with his busy schedule full of counting his money and figuring out how to insert his product further up everyone’s digital sphincter, he finds time to criticize our failed media experiment. Reader B sent me [trigger alert: Facebook] his rant, and I was pretty much onboard until this:
And we come to Ezra Klein. The great Ezra Klein of Wapo and msnbc. The man who, while a partisan, does not try to keep his own set of facts. He founded Vox. Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism in a format that felt Internet-native and natural to people who grew up interacting with screens instead of just watching them from couches with bags of popcorn and a beer to keep their hands busy.
And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them. To be fair their top headline right now is “How a bill made it through the worst Congress ever.” Which is better than “you can’t clean your jeans by freezing them.”
The jeans story is their most read story today. Followed by “What microsoft doesn’t get about tablets” and “Is ’17 People’ really the best West Wing episode?”
Three things: first, Vox is predominantly serious stories, as anyone who reads it regularly will tell you. At this moment, the five stories at the top of Vox’s page deal with the VA, bicycle deaths, Congress, health care and smallpox. Second, the Levi’s story is serious journalism. Levi’s claims that you can save water by freezing your jeans instead of washing them, so the claim is worth investigating. Vox’s short, interesting piece gives a quick overview of the science of why that won’t work. What is that but journalism in one of its purest forms? Third, judging what people read in Vox by what they email is obviously stupid, but I’m not surprised that a douchebag from the company where the “like” is considered the sine qua non of reflective human interaction would choose to judge Vox by that metric.
One of the dumbest, knee-jerk critiques of journalism is that it has to be boring to be serious. Vox is attempting to be interesting and serious, and succeeding a fair amount of the time. Hudack should stick to his bottom feeding eyeball mining operation and leave the journalism critiques to someone who’s not out to be as cute and stupid as the product he supervises.