Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias

Cofounder Vox.com

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 22, 2016

Discussion

Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
Hi — I'm Matt Yglesias, a co-founder of Vox.com and a writer and editor for the site as well as an author of a couple of books. I mostly cover economic policy, but during this crazy campaign season I've been focused a lot on the presidential primaries. I also like to blab about the NBA and my son who just turned one earlier this month. But as an old-timey blogger, I'm both willing and eager to opine on basically anything at all. Happy to be here -- ask me anything!
chaz littlejohn
chaz littlejohn@chazdazzle · Founder, Pokeit.co
Neo-liberalism is getting a bad rap these days. Do you think Democrats are throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@chazdazzle I'm not sure that "neoliberalism" is an incredibly helpful term. What I do think is that Democrats current focus on increasing tax revenue from the top one percent in order to finance the creation of new programs is a little excessively narrow-minded. There's nothing wrong with it, but I do think there's something wrong with how dominant it is. There are a lot of areas (infrastructure comes to mind) where the biggest problem is currently how we spend, not how much we spend it. And there are a lot of areas (housing comes to mind) where the biggest problems are regulatory and not related to taxes or social spending.
Zac Gross
Zac Gross@zac_gross
How much of Vox's readership is from outside the US? Do you ever write with international readers in mind, or think you will ever set up foreign offices/stringers?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@zac_gross I haven't looked at this in a while, but the last time I checked it was about 10 percent largely from the UK/Canada/Australia. What we can't tell is how many of those people are foreigners and how many of them are Americans simply living abroad. We don't really target international audience growth right now because our ad sales are US-specific so in a sense foreign readers don't count. But in the long run I'd love to see more internationalization.
Nik Sharma
Nik Sharma@mrsharma · Director of Performance Marketing, hint
Hey Matthew, thanks for doing the PH LIVE! My question is: Everything about Vox.com is so different than any other media platform. From the design of the site, to the way the articles are written, to it's portfolio of brands. With all that, where do you see publisher advertising in the next 12 to 18 months? Do you think it will still be programmatic, or directly sold ad revenue, or do you think more pubs will adopt the BuzzFeed style, and have brands sponsor more and more content, instead? Thanks!
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@mrsharma I have no idea!
Jennifer Grygiel
Jennifer Grygiel@jmgrygiel · Assistant Professor, @NewhouseSU
Hi Matthew, I'm concerned about how social media data is being used to convey voter sentiment surrounding the election. Just wondering what your thoughts were on Twitter SOV and Google trends being used during debates etc.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@jmgrygiel I really like the increasing use of Google data in election coverage. It's very interesting, as a member of the press, to see what it is people actually want to know about stories in the news. There's more to life than search-demand, but it's in many ways a good starting point for thinking about which stories to tackle.
Jennifer Grygiel
Jennifer Grygiel@jmgrygiel · Assistant Professor, @NewhouseSU
@matthew_yglesias Agree that it's good for editorial, but I think it's being presented as poll level data and that there is not education around what Google trends actually means. Some background: http://www.thestreet.com/story/1... and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/je...
Arun Khanna
Arun Khanna@arunkhanna00
I'm curious what you feel about using an MMP proportional system(like Germany) to allow smaller parties(instead of a bunch of interest groups acting inside a party) to be elected in Congress and using IRV to elect a president(to allow people to run without worrying about splitting the vote aka Ralph Nader). Also, what affect do you think having such a system would have on polarization. Also I'm curious about your views on a Henry George LVT...
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@arunkhanna00 I think those election reform ideas are pretty sound. But as long as we are amending the constitution to press for major political reforms, I'd like us to go full-bore parliamentary system. Land Value Tax is a good idea. George was not in a position to foresee what a problem over-zoning would become, so in a lot of cities LVT would not make a huge practical difference. But in cities that are growing rapidly and don't have excessive anti-development restrictions (Texas cities, especially) an LVT would be a very useful way to raise revenue without constraining growth.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
How do you balance being a father and a hectic work life?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@bentossell The main thing is to cut out the social life and not sleep very much. Or more seriously. One nice thing about journalism is that it's reasonably flexible. A lot of work can be done at night after the baby is asleep or during weekend naps and that helps me catch up with what I miss by leaving the office early.
Justin Kwong
Justin Kwong@justinckwong · Founder @ ISM (ism-sf.com)
What’s the hardest part about keeping users engaging with your content?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@justinckwong Honestly the hardest part is thinking of interesting things to write.
Zac Gross
Zac Gross@zac_gross
You have been quite bearish on Cruz's odds in the general election. Why don't you think he will be able to pivot to the centre by the first debate, a la Romney, and embrace the rhetoric of generic republicanism? Romney also had a extremely regressive tax plan & policies, but still made a very respectable showing against an incumbent etc. and Cruz seems to have a extremely cynical and ambitious approach to politics. He wants to win, not be a martyr for the cause.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@zac_gross Ted Cruz is very specifically running on a tax plan that would raise taxes on senior citizens. Nobody has ever tried that before because it's utter political suicide. To be clear, any major party nominee has a chance to win if they benefit from favorable events. But Cruz would be swimming against the current in a very strong way.
Peter Favaloro
Peter Favaloro@peterfavaloro
It looks like this year a bigger-than-ever chunk of the electorate is fed up w "elites ignoring their concerns" — Trump, Cruz, and Bernie all represent revolts against the establishment status quo in varying ways. If the Dems had known in advance, could they have positioned themselves differently to ride this wave of electoral energy to build a new progressive consensus? E.g. if Bernie were less obviously a protest candidate, if down ballot Dems were focused on these issues more, and there were a more robust effort in the liberal wonkery/punditry to design and sell revolutionary (not incrementalist) progressive solutions to these issues? Also, what does this year say about the wisdom of winnowing the field before the primaries begin? If you’re a major political party, isn’t one of the reasons you have primaries so you can figure out which candidate fits the zeitgeist? I for one am wishing Warren had run.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@peterfavaloro I think you are definitely right that Democrats over-winnowed. I would say in general that Democratic elites over-value avoiding tough primaries and under-value the merits of letting political talent rise to the top. You see that in the presidential race, but you also see it in how many safe liberal senate seats are held by people who are kind of old and mediocre and yet have never faced serious competition from young go-getters. American politics is ultimately a conflict-laden and candidate-centric affair, and it can be helpful to have fights.
Peter Favaloro
Peter Favaloro@peterfavaloro
@matthew_yglesias Thanks for the reply! Any thoughts on the first question wrt what the Dems would have needed to do to better take advantage of this year's anti-establishment sentiment?
adfdf fsdf
adfdf fsdf@adsfadfaf555
Do you consider Vox to have a political or ideological slant of any type? If so, do you think readers should factor this in when reading your site's content? Anticipatory Follow-up: does fact and statistical based journalism (versus simple anecdotal information gathering) now seem to attract certain ideologically-inclined readership?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@adsfadfaf555 I don't think we have a "slant" exactly and Vox certainly isn't an ideological product, but both the authors and the audience of the cite come from a demographic group that is left-of-center and I think that's reflected in the content.
Zac Gross
Zac Gross@zac_gross
How do you see the future of podcasting evolving, flash in the pan or here to stay? How does it compare with writing from the journalist's point of view? Anecdotally, it seems way more fun & far less effort...
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@zac_gross The most important difference at this point is that per listener revenue on podcasts is way higher than per reader revenue on articles. That creates a space to do things that are more optimized to reward loyalty, while articles are shifting toward optimizing for virality. But at the same time, the current revenue available to podcasters is producing a boom in podcasting that I expect will eventually re-create the situation in which sponsors only bother with mass scale.
Matthew, what would be the lifetime of a video on Vox? Whenever we share news videos, it dies within a day. :)
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@pavisj It really depends on the nature of the video. For YouTube, we try to optimize for evergreen appeal.
Mike Brune
Mike Brune@mike_brune
Jumping off the question about voting systems: You allude to major changes you'd like to see in the United States government, so let's go full-on constitutional fan-fiction. If we somehow get to a point where we are writing a new constitution, what is Matthew Yglesias writing in his Federalist Papers?
Slappy O'Houlihan
Slappy O'Houlihan@slappy_o_houlihan
@mike_brune This is a fantastic question.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@mike_brune The US government actually has pretty extensive experience in setting up new constitutions. I would say that the one we wrote for Germany is a pretty good model of federalism for a large democracy.
Jeff Levine
Jeff Levine@jeff_levine
Hey Matthew, How would you respond to Josef Joffe's characterization of "The Obama Doctrine," as "Obama is not a realist, he's an isolationist with drones and special forces." Especially given your own experience interviewing the President, do you believe that "The Obama Doctrine" is actually a real thing? And if so, do your views hew more closely to Goldberg, or to Joffe. Thanks!
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@jeff_levine I think Joffe's whole framing is ridiculous and I've never liked the term "isolationist" to begin with. I liked Goldberg's article a lot, though if I got to do it all over again I would just note that political reality plays a big role in foreign policy in a way that policymakers don't like to admit. You can't quite take everything Obama has said and done and weave it into a consistent and coherent framework because one thing he is doing is responding in different ways to crass political imperatives.
Justin Kazwell
Justin Kazwell@just_kaz · Founder & CEO of Tribute Inc.
Is there long term viability in a platform based off micro contributions? Think Patreon and ZapChain
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@just_kaz Sure, why not?
Justin Kazwell
Justin Kazwell@just_kaz · Founder & CEO of Tribute Inc.
@matthew_yglesias User's willingness to contribute when up until now the majority of content online has been ad supported
Will Wedin
Will Wedin@doctorsouz · Pediatrician
The ACA broadly defines certain "Essential health benefits" that insurance policies must cover, but leaves most of the specifics to individual states. Medicare largely dictates which treatments will be covered by deferring to the AMA's "Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee". What role do you think the government should have (if any) in defining which medical services must be covered, and why? In your answer, please address what feed back mechanism(s) should be used to periodically update those "essential health benefits". Thanks a million.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@doctorsouz I'm not generally a huge fan of federalism, but this is an example of a case where it can be useful to let some state-to-state variation exist so that we can see what happens. I'd ideally like to allow for a wide range of different choices for a while, and then we can study the consequences of different choices and then consider using the federal government to constrain choice.
Joe Cerami
Joe Cerami@josephrcerami · Univ of St Thomas-Houston
Is there such a thing as "political entrepreneurship"?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@josephrcerami I think so, yeah. Or maybe it would be better classified as "policy entrepreneurship." But to change things, whether in the business world or in the polical world, requires an entrepreneurial approach.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Matthew thanks for being here! As a cofounder, what have your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@ems_hodge The biggest challenge is not getting too comfortable once you overcome one set of challenges or too discouraged in the face of setbacks. I'm not sure this is the kind of thing that one does "overcome" exactly, but I find it helpful to read about ambitious success stories — whether in business or politics — and see how much it really does come down to one thing then the next thing then the next thing forever and ever.
David Page
David Page@davidpage6
Do y'all plan on increasing coverage of state and/or regional politics on the site? I know y'all have talked on The Weeds about how important state politics are and how it tends to not be covered as widely as it could.
Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias@matthew_yglesias · Title TK, Vox.com
@davidpage6 I would say we have an aspiration to do this, but not yet a specific plan for *how* to do it.