Is The Verge's editorial direction fraying at the edges?
Its mission is to offer in-depth reporting and long-form feature stories, breaking news coverage, product information, and community content in a unified and cohesive manner.
Before the "Traitorous Eight" left Engadget in 2011, I was hooked. It replaced Gizmodo's sensationalistic schlock that I'd become so used to with some incredible personalities and wonderful standards in knowledge, reporting and presentation. After Tim Stevens took over, it just became this pale ghost. Go there these days and it's just matter-of-fact tech churn-alism that offers little insight, slapdash, inconsistent video standards and just unexciting coverage.
I like The Verge because it explores new things, it experiments. It retains all the wit that Engadget and barged into strange new frontiers. I was up until 430AM on a workday waiting for the site to go up and while I missed it (one must eventually sleep!) I was greeted by a great site where STEM-based content could flourish. Having a mini-doc on Doomsday bunkers? Strange and cool!
Flash-forward nearly two years and it seems that The Verge is using its STEM-themed mission statement to post about almost anything tangentially related to STEM stuff. When people step in and complain about an album review or coverage of the Boston Marathon manhunt, I can understand both sides of the equation, but I don't think the argument is 'if you want a tech blog, go to' anymore, I think it's that The Verge is just kinda throwing stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks.
The Verge made a huge deal about adding Katie Drummond and the new Verge Science content and it just seems to be drummed in (no pun intended) without much of a moniker or attention. Meanwhile, Bryan Bishop is doing movie reviews, we're following the Boston Marathon manhunt and The Verge is writing up game reviews while cross-linking Polygon content. Huh? (Why did Vox even build Polygon if The Verge is just going to independently duplicate their coverage without their specific gaming insight?) Bradley Manning? Politics?
To that point: cases can be made for all of these things under The Verge's mission statements., but all are baffling additions to an editorial that just keeps reaching further and further out, somewhat aimlessly, while not really providing much of a knowledge base behind it. I find the case behind John Wilkes Booth's ultimate fate relevant. A review of The Wolverine? Eh, not so much.
In comments section after comments section, I see writers getting derided for only being semi-knowledgeable about a particular subject. The Verge seems to casually approach a variety of subjects with writers that only have casual competencies in the stuff they report on. No, it doesn't make sense to have a bunch of doctorate-level engineers clash with The Verge's culture just so the newest phone review isn't 20-pages long with PowerPoint slides on how CPUs interact with northbridges, but I don't think a few more specialized minds would hurt.
By no means do I think The Verge is doing a bad job. I'm on the site every day, but when I see them reaching out to report on stuff for what looks like a quick grab for hits (although I don't believe the staff is malicious) or stepping out of their knowledge base, it just looks weird and sad rather than exciting and experimental.