Articles about "The Verge"

Career Beat: Arianna Huffington to get new chief of staff

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Elise Hu will be NPR’s Asia correspondent in Seoul. She covers tech and culture at NPR. (Poynter)
  • Mitra Kalita is now executive editor-at-large for Quartz. Previously, she was ideas editor there. Paul Smalera will be Quartz’ new ideas editor. He is editor of The New York Times opinion app. (Poynter)
  • Donald Baer is now chairman of PBS’ board of directors. He is CEO of Burson-Marsteller. (PBS)
  • Jessica Coen is now a contributing editor at Marie Claire. She is an editor-at-large with Jezebel. (Fishbowl NY)
  • Stephen Lacy is now chairman of the Association of Magazine Media. He is CEO of the Meredith Corporation. (Email)
  • Dan Katz will be chief of staff to Arianna Huffington. He’s currently a chief researcher for David Gergen. Maxwell Strachan is now senior editor of business and tech at The Huffington Post. Previously, he was business editor there. (email)
  • Emily Yoshida will be entertainment editor at The Verge. Previously, she was culture editor at Grantland. (Muck Rack)

Job of the day: The Virginian-Pilot is looking for a digital news editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more


Here are the media’s best 404 pages

Bloomberg Politics got some attention Monday after an enterprising reporter noticed that navigating to a broken page on the site reveals this animation of Joe Biden shooting lightning at a revolving “404″ symbol:

That got me thinking: how do other news organizations handle the dreaded error message? To find out, I went to a lot of sites and broke a lot of links. Here’s what I found:


Billy Penn

If for some reason you stray across a broken page at local news startup Billy Penn, you’re greeted by an oil painting of William Penn, the site’s namesake, who delivers a gentle admonishment: “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”


The Chicago Tribune

Break a link at The Chicago Tribune and a dapper fellow named “Colonel Tribune” appears and introduces himself as the “Web ambassador for” He suggests you search the site’s topics pages before bidding you a fond farewell.


Stars and Stripes

When you visit a broken page at the Stars and Stripes website, you get a mock-up of the newspaper’s front page, complete with “404″ paratroopers repelling down to fix the problem. There’s all sorts of little jokes buried on this page, too — look at the flag and the story to the right.



The Boston Globe’s recently launched Catholic vertical features St. Anthony, the patron saint of the lost things. His prayer? “Grant that I may find the webpage which has been lost.”


San Diego Union-Tribune

What a pastoral scene. Here, a copy of the San Diego U-T sits awash on a beach somewhere like a castaway, clearly lost.


USA Today

USA Today’s “Entertain This” section features a picture of pop star Lionel Richie who sweet talks wayward viewers.


The Huffington Post

HuffPost attempts to soothe our anger at arriving at a broken page by showing us a picture of an adorable dog. You can almost feel your rage melt away as you look into the pooch’s contented eyes.



Motherboard, Vice’s future-of-technology vertical, makes up for the error with a purple horse galloping in a circle. Check it out. The screenshot doesn’t do this thing justice.


Nieman Lab

Our fellow media watchers over at Harvard offer this picture of a Linotype machine along with a tongue-in-cheek heading. Journalists will sympathize.


Philadelphia Inquirer

Speaking of newspapers, here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer’s error page: A cartoon reminiscent of the Sunday funnies, with a man falling into a news rack.


True to form, offers us an explainer on the nuances of 404 pages in its distinctive yellow/blue/gray color scheme. Well played.



Vox Media’s video game vertical offers this fix for the 404 glitch: “pull out the URL and blow on it, and then slide it back into the browser (but not too far!) and wedge it in there with a second link. You’ll be good.”


The Verge

The Verge’s error page is a parody listicle titled “404 Most Influential People In Oops” that asks us nicely not to freak out.



And speaking of listicles, I’ll leave you with this. BuzzFeed’s 404 page looks completely normal, save for the disembodied head of a little girl peeking up at you from the bottom right corner. Weird.


Want more error pages? and The Huffington Post have both made lists of their favorites.

Know of any interesting error pages in media I’ve forgotten? Send me a link and I’ll add it to the list. Read more

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For Hack Week, The Verge merges product and editorial — and publishes a lot of quizzes

The Verge posted some offbeat stuff during its anything-goes Hack Week last week: a timeline of Gordon Ramsay’s epicurean empire, a history of metaphors for the internet, a list of the top 10 videos featuring Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief.

“I was expecting traffic to crater,” Patel said. But pageviews actually jumped 11 percent from the previous week. More telling: Facebook engagement was up 52 percent.

Given the BuzzFeed-like content that the site ran as it experimented with tools like timelines, photo sliders and quizzes, that’s not a huge surprise. While articles like “Name this Samsung rectangle” clearly resonated with readers by offering something new, some commenters were a little fed up with all the quizzes and lists.

More examples:

“Maybe we shouldn’t have a site full of quizzes,” Patel told me during a visit to Vox Media’s Manhattan offices. “I will happily accept that criticism. But now we have a staff that is much better at deciding what a quiz is good for.”

That was the point of the Verge’s first annual Hack Week: to give reporters an opportunity to experiment with Vox Media’s expanding toolbox of digital storytelling techniques, and to have people on the product side become more than just faces the editorial side sees in the elevator. The point wasn’t to reinvent the site — although a responsive redesign is on the way — but to change how everyone on staff collaborates.

Hack Week ‘like a middle school dance’

Throughout the week, Patel and executive editor Dieter Bohn kept an eye out for breaking news, freeing the staff to focus on trying new techniques during what is typically a slow week for tech news in August. Members of the Washington-based Vox Media product team visited New York, and product people mingled with editorial people in the same room — after a little prodding.

On day one, it wasn’t clear where the product people were going to sit in the newsroom, said Lauren Rabaino, The Verge product manager who is also leading Vox Media’s new editorial apps team. So they ended up in a conference room adjacent to the newsroom. That gave them chairs and easy access to power outlets, but it defeated the purpose of the two teams coming together. So Rabaino’s team ended up sitting on the floor, on couches and in-between reporters.

On Tuesday, it still felt “like a middle school dance,” Patel said, so he had to tell the staff, “I’m forcing you to mingle.” The idea, said Rabaino, is that going forward “a reporter won’t feel weird pinging an engineer in a side channel on Slack.”

Thomas Ricker, The Verge’s deputy managing editor, international, flew to the “mothership” from his home in Amsterdam for Hack Week. “When you work with a big team that’s virtual, the persona you have is only on the screen,” he said. “Sometimes you just want to say, ‘dude, are we ever going to get this fixed?’”

Those are easier conversations to have when you’ve worked with people face-to-face and understand what they do, Ricker said. Or, as he put it in a post on the product team’s blog: “Who knew that Product, like Soylent Green, is made of real people?”

New tools, new story ideas

To avoid paralysis from infinite choice, Patel said, The Verge did some planning before the chaos of Hack Week began. Editors brainstormed a list of story ideas to give reporters a place to start, and Rabaino provided a dashboard of tools that included Knight Lab’s TimelineJS and tools like this quiz generator and this meme generator previously developed for Vox Media.

Among Patel’s favorite things from last week: a list of Kanye West samples, a look at how the NASA’s Curiosity rover has changed after two years on Mars using a photo slide tool, and a new reader submission tool from Vox Media’s editorial apps team allowing readers to participate in a popular Verge feature: “What’s in Your Bag?”


When I visited The Verge newsroom, news editor T.C. Sottek was putting on a live stream of himself using Photoshop. “I couldn’t tell you whether that’s what our readers want,” Patel said. “But it’s what our readers might want, and this is the week to find out.”

Hacking mentality not just about tech

Rabaino credited’s launch with spurring the entire company to more closely integrate product teams and editorial teams. She said co-founders Melissa Bell and Ezra Klein and senior UX developer Yuri Victor provided an example of collaboration for the entire company by launching their site in literally nine weeks and then iterating and introducing new features out in the open.

Many of the tools The Verge used during Hack Week came from what Victor and are doing, Rabaino said. Patel, a Verge co-founder, spent some time at himself before returning to The Verge when Josh Topolsky left for Bloomberg. He also credited for inspiring The Verge team — which also uses the widely praised Chorus content management system — to bring its tech and reporting teams closer together.

RELATED: 4 tips for creating efficient newsrooms from Vox’s Yuri Victor

Rabaino says Hack Week wasn’t all about using digital tools better; it was about changing the culture, too. With social media manager Sam Sheffer out on vacation, every reporter got the keys to Facebook so they could promote their own work. The Verge is a tech site, so understanding how Vox’s developers and designers work can only make reporters better at reporting, too, Patel said.

Even having Klein write a piece for The Verge was a form of hacking: “It’s text on a page, but text from a different person with a different perspective,” Rabaino said. (Arranging for contributor posts from people like Klein and Vox Media editorial director Lockhart Steele also ensured the site would have some solid content even if other Hack Week posts bombed.)

Rabaino said even newsrooms without the technical expertise of Vox Media can get better at telling stories online by not being afraid to iterate quickly and listen to feedback. Too often, she said, hackathons at more traditional news organizations involve lots of planning — from ordering pizza to requirements that participants have demos ready at the end. That can be constraining.

The Verge didn’t decide to have its Hack Week until the week before, Rabaino said. There wasn’t time for a lot of structure, and that allowed for creativity at the expense of a little chaos.

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Nilay Patel leaves The Verge for Ezra Klein’s Vox

Re/Code | Facebook

Verge Managing Editor Nilay Patel will become acting managing editor of Ezra Klein’s Vox, Kara Swisher reports. Both publications are owned by Vox Media.

Patel won’t stay long at Vox, Swisher writes: “Sources said he will later move on to work on the site related to Vox Media’s purchase last November of the Curbed Network of sites that focus on real estate and restaurants, with its founder Lockhart Steele.”

In a post published on Vox’s Facebook page Monday, Patel writes, “This is going to be fun.”

Last year I interviewed Patel, a copyright attorney, about what a writer with a legal background can bring to a publication. “There’s this whole army of unemployed law-school grads and none of them is competing with me,” Patel said. Read more


You can use Getty Images for free, sort of

The Wall Street Journal | The Verge | BBC | Nieman Lab

The “sort of” is you’re using Twitter, Tumblr or “non-commercial WordPress blogs,” Georgia Wells reported in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday after Getty Images announced they’d make a whole lot of images available for free.

On Wednesday, the company unveiled the embed tool, which will allow users to include images on websites, such as non-commercial WordPress blogs. The eligible images also come with buttons for Tumblr and Twitter, where a link to the image can be shared. (The image itself doesn’t appear on Twitter, however.)

Poynter is a nonprofit, and we do use WordPress. But we do sell ads against our content. So I think it’s OK that I pulled this shot this morning, because, well, look at that guy.

Read more


Knight wants to help fix the Internet

Knight Foundation | The Verge | The Guardian

The first Knight News Challenge of the year asks: “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?”

Knight, with help from the Ford Foundation and Mozilla, is offering $2.75 million for the winning ideas. The challenge aims “to attract a broad range of innovative ideas from journalism, policy, research and education.”

The challenge comes just after Verge Managing Editor Nilay Patel wrote a much-passed-around essay called “The Internet Is Fucked (But We Can Fix It).” Its thesis: “the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job.”

Patel is skeptical that the market can address these problems on its own, because of lack of competition among Internet providers. He suggests pressure on the FCC to stop Comcast’s planned merger with Time Warner, for instance:

American politicians love to stand on the edges of important problems by insisting that the market will find a solution. And that’s mostly right; we don’t need the government meddling in places where smart companies can create their own answers. But you can’t depend on the market to do anything when the market doesn’t exist.

Last month Dan Gillmor called on major philanthropic foundations to help address what he called the “the forces of centralization” he says are “inexorably strangling democratized technology and communications.”

Please fund a bunch of research and development of open technologies and services. In other words, help re-create an infrastructure for tech liberty. Don’t pick winners. Pick possibilities and help as many as possible, building on current experiments and projects and finding new ones that sound promising. Understand that most will fail, and be fine with that.

Knight plans a panel during SXSW called “Remember When the Internet Was Free?” on Saturday, March 8, at 12:30 p.m. Read more


Paul Miller returns to Internet: ‘There’s only so much navel-gazing that one guy can do’

The Verge

Tech writer Paul Miller’s dreams of an analogue existence during his year away from the Internet didn’t come true: “I just didn’t really do much of that,” he says about going to the library and using the post office.

He planned to leave reporting altogether, feeling like “there’s always more and more news to cover,” as he says in a video about his experiment. But instead of feeling free, he writes in an essay, he became something of a hermit: “Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.”

A year in, I don’t ride my bike so much. My frisbee gathers dust. Most weeks I don’t go out with people even once. My favorite place is the couch. I prop my feet up on the coffee table, play a video game, and listen to an audiobook. I pick a mindless game, like Borderlands 2 or Skate 3, and absently thumb the sticks through the game-world while my mind rests on the audiobook, or maybe just on nothing.

Read more

Greg Sandoval, who quit CNET, joins The Verge

Greg Sandoval | The New York Times
I’m saved,” Greg Sandoval wrote on his blog Sunday, announcing he was joining tech site The Verge as a senior reporter. Sandoval quit his previous employer CNET after he announced on Twitter, “I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence.” CBS owns CNET and forbade the site to give an award to a product from Dish Network, with which it is engaged in litigation.

He’s obsessed with getting the news — the real news — and I find that kind of energy infectious,” Verge Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky told Brian Stelter.

Sandoval writes that he has a “written guarantee from management that nobody from the business side of the company will ever have any authority over my stories.”

Related: Carl Franzen also joins The Verge; he comes from Talking Points Memo, where he was a tech reporter.

Previously: CNET reporter quits after reports that CBS impinged on editorial decision | CBS again impinges on CNET’s editorial independence | In BitTorrent case, CBS argues for CNET’s editorial independence Read more


Why publishers should follow the Verge-HuffPost aggregation dustup

Techdirt | BuzzFeed

It might be hard to understand why staffers at tech site The Verge complained so loudly about a Huffington Post “linkout” that sent readers to a Verge feature. After all, isn’t the Web built on such selfless acts of curation?

I’m sort of at a loss as to how anyone might think that the HuffPo snippet and link takes away from the original,” Techdirt Editor Mike Masnick wrote Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Huffington Post Senior News Editor Whitney Snyder roared to the defense of his organization’s linking practices. Read more

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Why news sites benefit from having writers with legal backgrounds

Instagram’s famous new terms of service go into effect Saturday. News organizations just got a serious warning about plucking photographs from Twitter. Wouldn’t this be a great time for a news org to have a copyright lawyer on staff?

Verge Managing Editor Nilay Patel is a former copyright attorney. Last December, when what seemed like the entire Internet freaked out about Instagram’s new terms, Patel wrote a post explaining why they “actually make things clearer and — importantly — more limited.” Instagram caved anyway. “That certainly sounds like a win for consumers, but it’s actually a loss,” he wrote:

[T]he newly-reinstated terms of service clause is objectively worse for users than the new one, and it’s worded far more vaguely — the language feels familiar and comforting, but you’re giving up more rights to your photos.

“Tech bloggers in particular are trained to believe they can horsepower their way through a story,” Patel told Poynter in a telephone interview. “You need to have the training.” Read more