Vox Media's The Verge Staffs Up Culture Coverage

Tech Site Hires Editor From Music Mag The Fader

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Don't call it a tech blog.

Vox Media's The Verge may be best known for its Apple event liveblogs and product design deep-dives, but the site has also reviewed films like "Divergent" and reported on the U.S. military's toxic burn pits.

Now The Verge has staffed up a new editor as it looks to go from a tech news site to a popular culture publication for people who grew up on the internet. Having spent the last three years as editor-in-chief of music and cultural magazine The Fader, Matthew Schnipper has joined The Verge as its deputy managing editor to oversee long-form feature writing and culture coverage.

"Our features have been a place where we put an enormous amount of focus. I had a hand in running features and longform, but I wanted somebody with real-world experience to take over some of that and expand it," The Verge's editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky said.

The Verge counts more than 40 employees on the editorial and operations side. It attracted 7.9 million U.S. unique visitors across desktop, smartphone and tablet browsers in February, according to comScore.

The Verge's feature stories have earned the respect of media types for their content as well as novel presentation. A recent longread on tech brand devotees called "Fanboys" looks different on an iPhone than it does on an Android phone to underscore the thesis.

"We were the first publication within the company to do longform. And that longform, by the way, predates [The New York Times' Pulitzer-winning feature] 'Snow Fall' by like a year…. And in my opinion, 'Snow Fall' probably wouldn't have existed without what we started doing at The Verge," Mr. Topolsky said, noting that few online publishers were publishing "longform at scale" at the time of the site's November 2011 launch.

In addition to differentiating The Verge from its perceived competition like AOL's TechCrunch or Gawker's Gizmodo, the site uses its feature stories to stake a claim on new topics considered of interest to its audience but maybe not enough for constant coverage. For example, The Verge doesn't regularly report on architecture, but that didn't preclude it from examining the world's oldest subway tunnel.

Now Mr. Schnipper will use the article format to expand The Verge's culture coverage in hopes of solidifying the site as not just another tech blog, like how Rolling Stone became more than a music magazine.

"We consider [longform] to be the frontlines of our battle for expanding what we do and telling bigger, better stories. The longform stuff is on the frontlines of that and helps to shape where we're going and how big the stories can be and what kinds of stories we're particularly interested in," Mr. Topolsky said.

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