Vox Media and the Art of Storyhunting

In April of 2019, Vox Media acquired Epic, which includes Epic Magazine, the nonfiction storytelling powerhouse, and its sister company Epic Digital, the true story consultancy and content studio for leading brands.

Vox Media, the leading modern media company known for building media brands and the technology that enables them, grew this year in a merger with New York Media. It’s editorial networks now include Vox, The Verge, SB Nation, Eater, Polygon, Recode, Curbed, NY Mag, Vulture, The Cut, Intelligencer, Grub Street, and The Strategist. The diverse storytelling and advertising businesses within Vox Media include the Concert publisher-led marketplace, the Vox Creative content studio, the Chorus publishing platform, and the company’s entertainment division Vox Media Studios, which includes the Vox Media Podcast Network and now, Epic.

So how does a thriving media company with a broad audience and a bullpen full of advertising partners implement an elite squad of veteran journalists and non-fiction storytellers? By telling incredible brand-funded stories, of course!

We caught up with Zach Kazin (Director of Creative Strategy, Vox Creative at Vox Media) to learn more about how Epic functions to elevate projects within the Vox family and what it means to invest in bringing real, good stories to life:

Can you tell us a little more about Epic and why Vox Media sought the company out?

Channeling journalistic principles, Epic Magazine & Epic Digital were founded by Josh Davis and Josh Bearman - reporters with roots at Wired, This American Life, GQ, and Rolling Stone - in 2013 to publish extraordinary true stories. In addition to stories published in Epic Magazine (and commissioned for other publications), Epic was notable for Vox Media for two key reasons:

(1) The stories that Epic finds have become a pipeline for Hollywood (TV, Film, OTT) development; more than 40 of Epic’s articles have been optioned by Hollywood, including Argo, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This was a natural way to grow the Vox Media Studios division.

(2) Epic partners with brands to find true stories of real people that express that brand’s values. Notable projects include work with Google, Ford, GE, and IBM (see more here). For brands, Epic offers its unique Storyhunting service: Epic story hunters travel the world in search of true stories; we then present ideas for how each story could come to life; and finally we turn the stories into documentary films, magazines, books, video games, photo essays, live events, and speeches. This was an approach to storytelling for brands unlike any we'd seen on the market, one that we knew would further differentiate Vox Creative, our leading branded content studio.

Epic has lived within Vox Media for the better part of a year now - what have the applications of their expertise been within the Vox Media network?