Online news company Vox Media launched its gadget-news source called Circuit Breaker on Monday, taking the unusual step of publishing the content primarily though Facebook.
The move underscores a tension in the online news world, in which publishers are often at the mercy of monolithic tech companies like Facebook and Google to reach readers and ultimately make money. Google’s tweaks to its search algorithm can cause a site’s traffic to drop or soar, and scoring a virally shared story on Facebook or Twitter can be a boon for readership. But advertising arrangements are still emerging between Facebook and publishers.
Although Circuit Breaker will be a blog section on Vox’s larger technology news site The Verge, editors’ primary focus will be “playing the News Feed game,” Helen Havlak, who oversees social media distribution for The Verge and now Circuit Breaker, told the New York Times.
Vox plans for Circuit Breaker to focus on live video, a fixation of Facebook‘s that the company is giving more prominent placement in users’ news feeds by design. The company will use Facebook’s Instant Articles, which Facebook hosts itself to make them sleeker and more quick to load.
Vox is simply chasing the places it sees the most potential, which has shifted in the last few years to apps like Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff told the Times.
The focus on gadgets also is a strategic move for the company, honing in on readers that are more likely to be in the frame of mind of buying something — an attractive characteristic for advertisers.
“Circuit Breaker brings the best of old-school blogging together with a sophisticated, aggressive modern platform distribution strategy,” The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel said in a statement. “We’re going to expand the already huge Verge audience by giving passionate gadget fans tightly-focused coverage of device categories that are poised to change the culture all over again.”