I have been following Vice for many years… many years. Even before they got into the news industry. I used to visit their tasteless (but so appealing and entertaining!) website and even bought their publications. When they started making online videos and documentaries, that was when they cemented my loyalty as an audience.
Now that they have begun perfecting their Vice News platform, along with their HBO documentary series (which we can see here on Malaysian satellite and IPTV), I am even more hooked. I feel like I can relate to their content and the way they present it. In fact, I used to always want to produce content the way they do.
But enough fan-boying over them.
The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) recently produced comprehensive profile write-up on the Vice group and it is definitely an interesting read. Some of the points that jumped out to me is the fact that Vice is now going to produce a daily 30 minute news programme on the A&E cable channel.
And there are controversies surrounding the Vice group too. All kinds of sexist and politically-incorrect issues always seem to crop up but never really that significant, the alleged pittance amount of money they pay staff and freelancers, and, of course, the issue of how blurry the line between editorial and advertising is.
But in all honesty, I’m just totally interested in their content. It really appeals to a large chunk of people in the world who previously just couldn’t be bothered about news and current affairs. Or maybe I’m just happy to be want to claim myself to be a ‘millennial’!
Here’s an except from the CJR article”
Vice’s brand of f video-making is built on a style the company calls “immersionism”—an ostensibly raw aesthetic that resonates with world-weary audiences distrustful of shiny, formulaic programming. So far, it seems that everything to which Vice applies its formula becomes unpretentious. But TV news is the ultimate product of legacy media pretentiousness, a world of dramatized sound bites, smooth transitions and anchors caked in makeup. It couldn’t be further from Vice’s ribald roots.
Right now, Vice News is online only, and editors have stuck to global subjects that resonate with a young audience, such as police brutality, climate change, and student protests. The daily “capsule,” a digest of world news in two-and-a-half minutes, is more likely to mention Chilean salmon harvests than Congressional infighting.
Most news videos are short dispatches, from Ukraine for instance, or 20- to 30- minute documentaries that are often personality-led, with a relatable host in his mid-twenties talking incredulously about what he sees. As the runaway success of true crime podcast Serial showed, a sense of honesty about the reporting process is powerful. In Vice’s interviews, the camera is often on the reporter as well as the subject.
Meanwhile, the impression that everything has been stitched together spontaneously gives the vibe of an inside scoop told to you by a friend, even if the story has already been reported. The video is well edited and shot in high definition like legacy media, but appears informal like social media.
Another point that interests me is the fact that they are hardly the most watched media. In fact, they trail websites like Buzzfeed and the like by a lot. But the important thing is the type of audience they get… as I mentioned earlier… the millennials:
Vice may not quite have the biggest audience in the media world (comScore data shows 32.4 million US unique visitors in May, compared to BuzzFeed’s 74.7 million, though this excludes Vice’s reach on YouTube, TV, and social channels), but it certainly has the most hype, and a lot of money.
Oh… and there is also the fact that they are worth at least US$4 billion.
Head on over the the Columbia Journalism Review website to read the article The cult of Vice. It’s a good and interesting read.