March 13, 2014

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David Leonhardt explains his vision for his upcoming “startup” publication at The New York Times, which will be called The Upshot.

Imagine that you were sitting down with a journalist and could ask any question about the news.

Which parts of Obamacare are working, and which parts are not? Is Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, really in danger of losing his seat this year? Is it better to buy a home or rent one in your metro area right now?

“Our biggest goal is to serve as navigators for the news,” Leonhardt writes. “We’ll be conversational without being dumbed down.”

This urge to explain also drives another forthcoming startup, the Ezra Klein-edited Vox, whose tagline is “Understand the news.” Nate Silver’s soon-to-be relaunched FiveThirtyEight chose a fox for its logo, because of an Isaiah Berlin parable in which a hedgehog “views the world in a simple fashion, with one big defining truth,” Sam Laird reports. “But the fox sees a world of nuance, a world that can be approached from multiple angles and contains multiple truths from multiple perspectives.”

The fox also needs to diversify, Emily Bell wrote Thursday, saying that in the “rush to revolutionize journalism, the protagonists are almost exclusively – and increasingly – male and white.” The fact that these startups reflect legacy journalism’s diversity problem don’t let them off the hook, Bell argues:

Women tend to have to choose in the newsroom, even digital-first newsrooms: serve others, as an editor or commissioner, or be your own presence as a journalist/columnist/blogger. The leadership in the new (new) journalism do both, and their founders would not for one second have thought they had to choose.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
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