RIP Vice.com! Website to lay off hundreds of employees, stop publishing stories - Hindustan Times
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RIP Vice.com! Website to lay off hundreds of employees and stop publishing stories

Feb 23, 2024 01:32 PM IST

Vice Media has said that it will no longer publish on its flagship website and is eliminating hundreds of jobs.

In a drastic move that has sent shockwaves through the digital media landscape, Vice Media Group has announced plans to overhaul its operations. The company will be laying off hundreds of employees and halting publication on its flagship news website, vice.com.

Vice Media that gained a wide following with young readers, said on February 22, 2024 that it will no longer publish on its flagship website and is eliminating hundreds of jobs. (AFP)
Vice Media that gained a wide following with young readers, said on February 22, 2024 that it will no longer publish on its flagship website and is eliminating hundreds of jobs. (AFP)

Vice CEO, Bruce Dixon outlined the company's new direction in a memo to employees on Thursday, stating, "It is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously." He added that Vice would now seek partnerships with established media companies to distribute its digital content, including news, on their global platforms as it transitions to a studio model. Which means it will stop publishing or distributing articles on its website vice.com and only produce content for other media brands.

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Dixon acknowledged the necessity of realigning resources and streamlining operations at Vice, resulting in eliminating several hundred positions.

Regarding Refinery29, Vice's women's lifestyle brand acquired in 2019, Dixon mentioned that it would continue to operate as a standalone digital publishing business. However, discussions are underway to sell this business, with executives actively pursuing this option.

Company's decision to shut down operations on its website and layoff hundreds of employees was met by mixed response on social media. On one hand where many celebrated the shut down of its services, owning to ‘distasteful content’ others termed it as a wrong precedent for other digital brands reeling under revenue pressures.

“As I said earlier today, the top 20% of the talent pool in media will thrive, and the other 80% will be cut. The advertising model is done, fb, google, Amazon, TikTok, & uber will win the entire ad market. Only subscriptions or niche pubs/podcast with elite talent are working," a social media user argued.

“We'll miss you, Vice dot com. Actually, no we won't. You were abysmal and everybody who ever contributed to your website deserves to be out of work forever,” noted another user.

Vice Media's rise and fall

Founded in Montreal in the 1990s as an alternative punk publication, Vice evolved into a multimedia empire co-founded by Gavin McInnes, Suroosh Alvi, and Shane Smith. However, Vice's journey has been marred by controversy, including its association with McInnes, who later founded the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist militant organization aligned with the far right.

It was once hailed as one of the hottest brands in digital media during the early 2010s, experienced rapid expansion fueled by its bold journalistic style and diverse commercial ventures. The company's portfolio included a news website, an entertainment studio, an HBO series, a cable TV channel, and an in-house marketing agency.

Despite its cultural influence and significant investments from industry giants like Disney and Fox, Vice struggled to achieve profitability. Over the years, the Brooklyn-based company faced financial challenges, leading to multiple rounds of layoffs and cost-cutting measures. Last year, Vice emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership by Fortress Investment Group, which attempted to find a buyer without success.

The difficulties faced by Vice reflect broader challenges in the media industry, exacerbated by a downturn in advertising revenue and increased competition from platforms like TikTok. Major news organizations, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, ABC News, and BuzzFeed News, have also implemented layoffs in response to these challenges, raising concerns about the future of journalism.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vertika Kanaujia is Editor Audience Growth at Hindustan Times and oversees the website’s coverage of business news, health, technology and internet culture. She is a Chevening Scholar and a Columbia Journalism University Fellow. Vertika has been a journalist for more than 18 years. After starting her career as a business journalist in TV she has worked with various leading news channels. You can email her at vertika.kanaujia@htdigital.in.

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