Illustration by Tuesday Bassen
At key points in our tour together, the Editorially founders have gathered for a meal. We shared oysters and lobster rolls when we first came together as a team; pasta, bread, and wine when we closed on funding; sticky chicken wings and Thai noodles when our far-flung colleagues joined us in New York; burgers and Manhattans when we shared the news of the shutdown with the world. And just last week we got together again, this time for steak and whole fish to celebrate the newest chapter: the three of us are joining the product team at Vox Media.
For us, this represents a continuation of work we started even before Editorially got off the ground. Each of us has roots in digital publishing and the editorial workflow: David was part of the digital media team at Hearst, where he helped build a content management system serving dozens of magazines. Jason is both cofounder and creative director of A Book Apart, and for seven years he served as creative director at A List Apart; he also pioneered art direction on the web, and was a direct influence on the Vox Media team’s work to design original, longform stories. Mandy is also cofounder and former editor-in-chief of A Book Apart — where she commissioned and edited the canonical Responsive Web Design — a former editor for A List Apart, and former creative director at the renowned publisher W. W. Norton & Company. Each of us has spent years thinking hard about how to make digital publishing the best experience for readers, writers, designers, and developers alike, and we are eager to continue to put that experience to work.
And Vox Media is the perfect place for us to do just that. Long hailed for their commitment to innovative publishing technology, Vox Media has a well-deserved reputation for pushing the limits of digital publishing. From a cultural and political history of American arcades to a brave investigation into the ethics of facial transplants, and from fervent tech reviews to a tale of soccer that reaches back to the Byzantine empire, few publishers have pushed storytelling on the web further. Just as critically, they’ve worked hard to design a platform that enables their team to productively experiment with different story forms — from longform pieces to quick dispatches, story streams, and the new card stacks. And they’ve simultaneously built technology to support advertising campaigns which are genuinely valuable to readers and brands alike — digital publishing’s holy grail.
And yet, there’s still work to be done. Chorus, the Vox Media stack, is an impressive suite of tools, but like anything on the web, it will never be finished. One goal, among those the team has identified for this year, stands out: a commitment to evolving the editorial workflow. That workflow encompasses everything from short posts written by sports fans to deeply researched and edited pieces; from articles that are mostly words to those that prominently feature video and interactive graphics; and from work that originates in the many Vox Media editorial teams to work from their in-house agency, Vox Creative. With over 1600 contributors and more than 300 editorial teams working over the past seven years, they’ve developed a robust suite of tools for carrying a story from idea to draft to published. But to be successful, digital publications must do more than permit a story to come together — they must also empower the kind of prolific, creative collaboration required to bring off stories that can seduce even the most distracted readers.
As it happens, we have a few ideas about that.
At Editorially, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to empower writers, editors, and designers to work together: features such as version control, activity feeds, and discussion threads were designed to stitch together the various stages of the editorial process and allow everyone involved to work more productively. In recent months, we’ve talked in detail about that work with Trei Brundrett, Vox Media’s chief product officer, and many of his talented colleagues. And together we hatched a plan for the three Editorially founders to join Vox Media and lead a team that will look hard at the editorial workflow across all of the Vox Media publications. In Trei’s parlance, we’re going to put the editorial workflow on a rocket ship and see where it takes us.
In addition to bringing the three of us into the fold, Vox Media is also acquiring the technology behind Editorially. We know many people have asked what we have planned for the Editorially codebase; happily, we can now report that we and the Vox Media team agree that the best thing for everyone is to share as much as we can. Together, we’re going to identify the most sensible way to release parts of the code via an open source license, so that others can learn from and build on our work. Look for details on that in the months ahead.
That said, while Vox Media is acquiring the Editorially technology, they are not acquiring our user data. Absolutely no user data — no names, email addresses, documents, or any other user data — will be transferred to Vox Media. That data remains in the hands of the Editorially founders and will be deleted at the end of the year (after enough time has passed to ensure that all users have been able to retrieve their documents).
The Editorially service will not return. We know some have expressed dismay at the loss of Editorially and may have even publicly hoped for a phoenix-like rebirth. Alas, that is not to be. That said, if you are among those still grieving for Editorially, we are hopeful that in the long run we will be able to console you in other ways. We remain unspeakably grateful to those who supported us, both before and after we announced the shutdown, and promise to keep you in our hearts as we approach the work ahead.
As for that: this afternoon we’ll board a train and head down to Philadelphia, where we’ll join the rest of the Vox Product team for their annual hack week. The last few months have given us time to rest and reflect, but now there’s nothing we want more than to get down to work. To the many friends and supporters who’ve stood by us during this time: thank you, again and again. To our new colleagues: onward!