Vice is stepping up its international news coverage with two BBC hires.
Ben Hunte, the BBC’s first LGBT correspondent, and Sophia Smith Galer, the BBC World Service reporter who made a name for herself using TikTok, are joining Vice World News as senior reporters based in London.
Vice World News launched last year to build on the “meteoric success” of Vice News in the US and boost its footprint around the globe. It creates TV, digital and audio news programming for global audiences.
It is now bolstering its journalistic talent across the Europe, the Middle East and Africa region to cover global stories on its core beats including extremism, justice, equality, trafficking, and global conflict.
Matthew Champion, executive editor of Vice World News for EMEA, said both Hunte and Smith Galer were “phenomenal journalists who will give Vice World News a huge edge in telling stories that matter, and telling them in the right way, as we grow our audience in EMEA and worldwide.”
Hunte, who will begin in mid-September, will have a focus on global LGBTQ experiences and issues, race, human rights and the African continent. He joined the BBC as its first LGBT correspondent at the start of 2019 and recently carried out a secondment as the BBC’s West Africa Correspondent.
Smith Galer, who has already left the BBC, begins her role immediately and will focus on the global creator economy, the Middle East, health, and misinformation. She is also writing her first book for Harper Collins dispelling cultural myths around sex, which will be published in January.
Vice claimed that Vice World News has seen “healthy growth” since its launch last year with 50m views on its video content each month and 1.2m subscribers across Instagram and Snapchat. Some 45% of its audience is Gen Z (currently aged 24 and under).
Cuts made at Vice Media at the end of August, with almost 20 mostly US-based employees made redundant in a shift away from text towards video, did not affect Vice News or Vice World News.
Vice Media Group announced on Friday it had closed a $135m (£97m) equity
financing round from its existing investors, with plans to use the money to fund growth opportunities such as direct-to-consumer offerings and content licensing.
Chief executive Nancy Dubuc said: “Vice Media Group has an unmatched premium collection of brands powered by diverse capabilities across global platforms. We believe we are in a stronger position today than ever before and we look forward to taking this business to the next level with this additional investment.”