Today, Melissa Bell announced that she will be stepping down as publisher of Vox, and that editor-in-chief Swati Sharma will take on the expanded role of editor-in-chief and publisher of Vox, reporting to Vox Media president Pam Wasserstein. In addition, Nisha Chittal has been named chief of staff. Bell shared the following in a note to Vox staff:
“In my two-plus decades of journalism, I have worked with many talented managers, journalists, and visionaries, but Swati is a rare combination of all three. She joined two years ago to oversee our text team, and carefully and thoughtfully expanded her remit across audio and video to set up an incredible operation with a unified team, a rigorous approach to our journalism, and a strong vision for where Vox needs to go next. She is a deeply empathetic leader who focuses on each individual’s strengths and pushes for a better Vox every day. Swati will report to Pam Wasserstein as first and foremost our Editor-in-Chief, and now as Publisher too. She’ll also work more closely with Jim Bankoff. I’m very excited for her to step into this more expansive role.
To help set Vox up for our next decade, Nisha Chittal will be stepping into a Chief of Staff role to help run the operations of the full, unified newsrooms, oversee our long-term editorial planning, as well as manage our Network Development team. Nisha has been an incredible leader at Vox, always finding ways to make us more efficient, more communicative. She has helped us become a stronger and better newsroom, and I’m thrilled to see her expand her purview at Vox and influence even more parts of this organization.
After ten incredible years working on Vox, I am stepping back from my role as publisher and becoming an advisor to the company…I want Vox to be an institution of lasting value – a place that outlasts its founders. And after the fast-paced intensity of our start-up, I have craved time to step back and be able to take a broader look at our industry and, hopefully, find new ways to help Vox lead the next revolution in our relationship to the news. I would never, ever feel like I could step back from this role if I didn’t have as much confidence as I do now about the future of Vox, and that’s because of all of you here, and because of Swati’s leadership.
This tiny idea I threw around with a few friends at a dirty dive bar in DC one night has become a massive change agent for our industry not because of any one of us, but because all of us here, and many other wonderful people who have worked here over the years. You took some part of our idea and made it smarter, sharper, more necessary. You made it into television programs, podcasts that air on 100 radio stations around the country, videos viewed around the world. You made it into a deep trove of necessary articles and points of reference, centering on our audience and their needs.
This is a challenging time for the media – but when is it not a challenging time for the media? And still, Vox has built a steadfast role for ourselves in the media firmament. There are a few reasons for our success that I want to call out. First, we are conscientious about our business at all times, even when, and particularly when, we have to make tough priority decisions to manage the changing market. Second, we center our audience; we don’t write for our peers or some small select group of thought leaders. Our peers and thought leaders read, listen, and watch us because we write for everyone to understand the world – including them, but not just for them. We are accessible – not just thanks to our lack of a paywall – but because of our writing, our voices, our commitment to not just reporting the news, but making it something people want to engage with. Finally, we center our own humanity. We are real people with real voices – and we care for one another just as we care for our mission and our audience.
I will be your fiercest fan and support system forever. I am and will forever be grateful that I get to be a part of this team, and work alongside some of the most creative, most hard-working, most mission-driven people in the business.
I can’t wait to see what you all do next. Thank you for giving me the best experience of my professional life.”