Prior to founding Vox, Ezra Klein worked for The Washington Post as the head of Wonkblog, a public policy blog. When Klein attempted to launch a new site using funding from the newspaper's editors, his proposal was turned down and Klein subsequently left The Washington Post for a position with Vox Media, another communications company, in January 2014.
The New York Times'David Carr associated Klein's exit for Vox with other "big-name journalists" leaving newspapers for digital start-ups, such as Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher (of Recode, which was later acquired by and integrated into Vox), David Pogue, and Nate Silver. He described Vox Media as "a technology company that produces media" rather than its inverse, associated with "Old Media". From his new position, Klein worked towards the establishing of Vox, including hiring new journalists for the site. Klein expected to "improve the technology of news" and build an online platform better equipped for making news understandable. The new site's 20-person staff was chosen for their expertise in topic areas and included Slate'sMatthew Yglesias, Melissa Bell, and Klein's colleagues from The Washington Post.Vox was launched on April 6, 2014, with Klein serving as editor-in-chief.
Klein's opening editorial essay, "How politics makes us stupid", explained his distress about political polarization in the context of Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan's theories on how people protect themselves from information that conflicts with their core beliefs.
In June 2016, Vox suspended contributor Emmett Rensin for a series of tweets calling for anti-Trump riots, including one on June 3, 2016, that urged, "If Trump comes to your town, start a riot." The tweets drew attention after violent anti-Trump protests took place in San Jose, California, on the day of Rensin's tweet.Elizabeth Plank was hired in 2016 as a political correspondent, and in 2017 launched her own series with Vox Media, called Divided States of Women.
In September 2017, Klein published a post on Vox announcing that he was taking on a new role as editor-at-large, and that Lauren Williams, who joined Vox a few months after its founding, was the new editor-in-chief. In late 2020, Klein, Williams, and Yglesias left the site. While Vox had been founded with prominent journalists, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff said that their brands had mature, mainstream audiences that no longer relied on personalities.
Swati Sharma was named editor-in-chief in February 2021. A managing editor of The Atlantic at the time of her appointment, she was expected to assume the position in March 2021.
According to Vox's founding editors, the site seeks to explain news by providing additional contextual information not usually found in traditional news sources. To reuse work from authors prior to the relaunch in 2014, Vox creates "card stacks" in bright canary yellow that provide context and define terms within an article. The cards are perpetually maintained as a form of "wiki page written by one person with a little attitude". As an example, a card about the term "insurance exchange" may be reused on stories about the Affordable Care Act.
Vox uses Vox Media's Chorus content management system, which enables journalists to easily create articles with complex visual effects and transitions, such as photos that change as the reader scrolls. Vox Media's properties target educated households with six-figure incomes and a head of house less than 35 years old.
Vox has a YouTube channel by the same name where they have regularly posted videos on news and informational subjects since 2014. These videos are accompanied by an article on their website. The themes covered in the videos are usually similar to the themes covered in the regular, written articles on the website. The channel has over 10 million subscribers and over 2.6 billion views as of November 5, 2021[update]. Content surrounds current affairs, timeline of certain events, and interesting facts.
The Weeds is a twice-weekly roundtable podcast, hosted by Yglesias and immigration correspondent Dara Lind, focusing on U.S. national news with a focus on the fine details of public policy. Senior politics reporter Jane Coaston was a regular co-host before joining the New York Times.
The Gray Area with Sean Illing (formerly the "Vox Conversations" podcast) is a weekly interview podcast in which Sean Illing and other hosts across the Vox newsroom interview guests in politics, media, science, and culture.
I Think You're Interesting is a weekly interview podcast about the arts, entertainment, and pop culture, hosted by Vox's "critic at large" Emily St. James.
Worldly (2017–21) was a weekly roundtable podcast focusing on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs, hosted by Vox foreign-and-security-policy writers Jennifer Williams, Zach Beauchamp, and Alex Ward; Yochi Dreazen also previously hosted.
The Impact is a weekly narrative podcast hosted by Kliff investigating the effects of policy decisions in practice.
Today, Explained is a daily podcast, hosted by Sean Ramaswaram and Noel King, providing short explanations of items in the news.
Primetime is a short-run podcast hosted by Emily St. James. Season 1 (six episodes) focused on TV's relationship with the presidency and was released on a weekly schedule.
Unexplainable is a weekly science podcast hosted by Noam Hassenfeld and a panel of experts exploring unanswered questions and the ways scientists are trying to answer them.
Land of the Giants is a weekly podcast hosted by Shirin Ghaffary and Alex Kantrowitz where each season covers a tech giant like Google, Apple, Uber, Netflix, and Amazon and their dominance in their respective technology sector.
Vox Quick Hits was a daily podcast consisting of short episodes covering topics in news, politics, and pop culture. Vox Quick Hits ended on September 10, 2021.
The website's launch received significant media attention. Websites noted that the launch came around the same time as other data and explainer websites like FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times'The Upshot.Vox was described as trying to act as a "Wikipedia for ongoing news stories".
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at The Week argued that the website produced "partisan commentary in question-and-answer disguise" and criticized the site for having a "starting lineup [that] was mostly made up of ideological liberals".The Week's Ryu Spaeth described the site's operations as "...essentially tak[ing] the news (in other words, what is happening in the world at any given moment in time) and fram[ing] it in a way that appeals to its young, liberal audience."
In November 2022, it was reported by Reason magazine that Sam Bankman-Fried—founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX—had issued major grants to a number of predominantly left-leaning political media outlets including Vox.
Original programming by Vox has been recognized by the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, which are presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2017, the documentary 2016 Olympics: What Rio Doesn't Want the World to See was nominated in the "Outstanding News Special" category, Vox Pop was nominated in the "Outstanding Arts, Culture and Entertainment Report" and "Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction" categories, and The Secret Life of Muslims was nominated in the "Outstanding Short Documentary" category. In 2018, Borders was nominated in the "Outstanding Video Journalism: News" category, and Earworm received nominations in the "Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction" and "Outstanding New Approaches: Arts, Lifestyle and Culture" categories.
Vox received 8.2 million unique visitors in July 2014. In October 2021, readership was estimated to be 19.7 million visitors.
In a 2017 interview on Nieman Lab, Klein stated: "We watch our audience data pretty closely, and our audience data does not show or suggest to us that we are overwhelmingly read on one side or the other of the political sphere, which is good.
^Bercovici, Jeff (May 12, 2014). "Why Do So Many Journalists Hate Vox?". Forbes. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
^Schmidt, Steffen W.; Shelley, Mack C.; Bardes, Barbara A. (2018). American Government and Politics Today, Brief. Cengage Learning. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-337-67017-3.
^The Editorial Board (July 8, 2020). "Bonfire of the Liberals". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
^ abcdYu, Roger (April 7, 2014). "Ezra Klein launches news site Vox.com". USA Today. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
^ abcdeCarr, David (January 26, 2014). "Ezra Klein Is Joining Vox Media as Web Journalism Asserts Itself". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 16, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2014.