Vox has the power, they just need to use it


Before this assignment, I wasn’t a frequent Vox reader but I was always intrigued by their videos and headlines. Now, I’ve followed the site for a semester and analyzed its simple yet impactful mission: Explain the news. Vox was made for with all of us in mind. Here are some of the biggest aspects I’ve noticed about Vox.

1. Explainers

Vox is definitely winning in the explainer category. Whether it be an informative video or think piece, Vox prides itself on making big news digestible for everyone. Vox’s explainer section is full of the biggest news with the most context and background. If you ever find yourself confused about the history of Trump and Kanye’s relationship, climate change, or how 4/20 became a day about marijuana, Vox is here to help. My favorite example came from early this year, when republicans in congress passed a sweeping tax bill – without a single vote from democrats. And how did Vox explain the confusing bill? With a video about cereal.

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2. Platforms

Vox aims to be “wherever you live on the internet”. You can find Vox on iTunes, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and basically any app you have. And I think Vox also does a good job of being present on most of these platforms. They constantly update their Instagram stories and continue to introduce new podcasts to its line-up (they announced the release of their new podcast Today, Explained just a few months ago). On Facebook, Vox makes quote cards to accompany its stories (and these cards are specifically made for Facebook as they aren’t featured in the article). I think this is a good way for Vox to connect with its audience visually. Even with its emphasis on explainer articles, Vox still finds the time to produce documentary series on its YouTube channel that follow foreign policy, music and more.







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3. Visuals

Vox’s graphic design team has talent, but we only get to see it every so often. Their story about the Ayahuasca retreat, which I previously made a post about, is the only story I’ve seen that has such detailed illustrations. Many Vox stories just feature a stock image right under the headline, a style that most news websites stick to. But Vox definitely can branch outside of this box. With the creative videos, data graphics, and the few illustrations I’ve seen, Vox could add these elements into more of their stories. Like this one:

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4. Ambitious Stories

Vox covers the big stories, even the ones that may be harder to cover. They’ve taken up the task of keeping record of every high ranking person accused of sexual assault, what industry they’re in, what day they were accused, who accused them, etc. This is the very first story I wrote about when I began tracking Vox and it’s great to come back to the story and see that Vox is still tracking this because it’s very important work. But it is sad to see how quickly this list has grown.

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5. What’s Next

While it seems that Vox is always one step ahead already I think they could definitely do more interactive stories like the one above. Since their motto is to “Explain the news” a lot of their stories have a lot of context, which is needed, but the amount of words can get overwhelming. I’m not asking Vox to create an interactive/multimedia element for every single story, that sounds exhausting, but I definitely think some of their written Explainer articles need more than a stock image at the top. They could break up some of the text with more images, more social media reaction, and maybe even take a poll of their followers and post the result in the story


Dense data is no match for Vox

Did you know that Black Americans don’t sleep as well as White Americans? Vox covered the interesting findings in this video. For a story like this, Vox could’ve just included graphs and data in the story, but they went a step further and made an interesting video that made the data stand out even more than it would have if they had just used images of the graphs or statistics.



In this section of the video, Vox presents the data on the recommended amount of sleep per age group. They include pictures and the visual of someone circling the recommended sleep cycles each time the voice over of the video moves on to talking about the next age group. This is more effective and engaging because you can see how Vox is emphasizing the data and not merely presenting it.

So what does good sleep look like? Vox has more cool visuals for those facts too:



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Vox also has visuals for their statistics on bad sleep:



They cite their sources by including full paragraphs from other articles and studies that explain the concept, as well as sound bites from experts. This sounds like it would look unappealing but Vox overlays it over a bright blue inviting background.



This next section of the video really stood out to me. Here they compared two data sets from two completely different sources: hours of sleep (Source: CDC) and median household income (Source: ESRI: Wealth Divides). They also have a visual of lines being drawn around the different wards that show where each ward is and they also specify the median income made in each ward.



They don’t end the video before giving solutions on how to sleep better, with visuals for each suggestion.

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When people think of data stories, they assume it might be boring. But Vox’s visuals make the data stand out in a way that makes you want to read. They use color, cool background images, and different fonts to point readers to crucial parts of the data and what they imply for our lives.