Vice Media to close flagship site, slash hundreds of staff

Media group the latest in a string of outlets to shed jobs amid collapsing revenues in the digital era.

A photograph of Vice offices, courtesy of Vice Media Group.
Vice Media is the latest in a string of media outlets to haemorrhage jobs [Courtesy of Vice Media Group].

Vice Media, the edgy media outlet that courted millennials and Gen Z, has announced it will cease publishing new content on its flagship website and lay off several hundred staff in the latest blow to the struggling media industry.

Vice filed for bankruptcy in May before being sold to New York-based Fortress Investment Group for $350m.

Cost-cutting measures, including several rounds of job cuts and the cancellation of its popular Vice News Tonight programme, failed to reverse its fortunes, which reflected the broader struggles of news outlets in the digital era.

Vice will cease to publish content on and move to partnering with other media companies, Vice Media Group CEO Bruce Dixon said in a memo that was widely shared online.

“With this strategic shift comes the need to realign our resources and streamline our overall operations at Vice,” Dixon said in his memo, adding that the company would switch to a “studio model.

“Regrettably, this means that we will be reducing our workforce, eliminating several hundred positions,” Dixon said.

Further details of the cuts are expected to be announced next week.

In January, the youth-focused brand announced that its music website Pitchfork Media would be rolled into GQ Magazine – killing off another staple of 2000s alternative culture.

Vice’s fall comes as traditional and digital media outlets alike are struggling to find a viable business model, with hundreds of jobs shed by the industry in the past year alone.

Vice’s rivals BuzzFeed News and Jezebel, which shared its strategy of combining irreverent and serious content, both shut down last year, while Vox Media and juggernaut publisher Condé Nast slashed jobs.

The bleeding has continued into 2024, with digital news start-up The Messenger shutting down, and layoffs announced at TechCrunch, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Newsroom employment in the United States plunged by more than a quarter between 2008 and 2021, according to the Pew Research Center, as print advertising revenues dried up alongside the shift to digital content.

Founded as the Voice of Montreal in 1994 before changing its name when it later relocated to New York, Vice grew from a print magazine into a sprawling multimedia company offering original digital and video content and several offshoot channels.

At the height of its success in 2017, the media group was valued at $5.7bn.

Source: Al Jazeera