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April 27, 2023updated 28 Apr 2023 9:47am

Vice News to ‘streamline’ with ‘painful but necessary’ job cuts

There will be job cuts across the global news team at Vice News.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Vice News is to “streamline” its operations resulting in “painful but necessary” job cuts across its global news team.

The publisher will put more focus on its digital video business and news documentary businesses, it said, and will end the production of Vice News Tonight which airs on Vice TV.

According to journalists tweeting that they had been laid off, the Vice audio team and the Vice gaming brand Waypoint were also closed down. Waypoint, which became Vice’s place for gaming content in 2016, said on its Twitter account: “The crew will be around until June 2nd to record a few podcasts and stream a few streams and find a few five-star runtimes, but soon, the Waypoint project is over. You were the best audience we could’ve asked for.”

All news content produced by Vice will now be “unified” under one Vice News brand instead of differentiating between that and, for example, sub-brand Vice World News. However this does not mean Vice World News is closing, Press Gazette understands.

Vice News editor-in-chief Michael Learmonth announced he is leaving the publisher after almost seven years.

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Vice Media Group chief executives Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, who took on their roles in February, told staff: “The teams will continue to work closely together, in a coordinated and collaborative manner focused on the shared vision for Vice News’ important role in global news coverage.”

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The co-CEOs cited “current market conditions and business realities”, saying: “We are transforming Vice News to better withstand market realities and more closely align with how and where we see our audiences engaging with our content most.

“To be incredibly clear, Vice News is core to Vice Media Group and fundamental to our business. We are NOT exiting the news business, but we are changing the shape of Vice News to position the whole company for long-term opportunities and improve how we deliver important, ground-breaking journalism well into the future.”

A Vice Media Group spokesperson said they were not able to comment on how many jobs are being put at risk across the global news team as a result of the plans.

Dixon and Lokhandwala said Vice News would “accelerate” its transition onto the “platforms where its biggest audiences are”, including Youtube, Tiktok, Twitch, and its documentary programming for streamers such as Netflix and HBO Max.

[Read more: Vice makes ‘long-term commitment’ to Twitch where journalists can talk Pentagon documents while playing Minecraft]

The planned cuts to Vice News come within one week of the closure of Buzzfeed News in the US, and further job losses at Insider, ABC News, including to data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight, and the layoff of all staff at pop culture title Paper Magazine.

Vice has been trying to sell itself and in February received $30m in debt financing. The Wall Street Journal reported last week Vice had discussed closing Vice World News if it did not find a buyer within weeks.

See the full email to staff from Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala below:

Team,

In response to the current market conditions and business realities facing VMG and the broader news and media industry, we are moving forward on some painful but necessary reductions, primarily across our News business. We are transforming VICE News to better withstand market realities and more closely align with how and where we see our audiences engaging with our content most. To be incredibly clear, VICE News is core to VICE Media Group and fundamental to our business. We are NOT exiting the news business, but we are changing the shape of VICE News to position the whole Company for long-term opportunities and improve how we deliver important, ground-breaking journalism well into the future. 

As part of this process, we’ve decided to streamline VICE News and make reductions in roles across our global News team to focus on our growing digital video business and our News documentary and series production business for VTV and distribution partners worldwide. We’re also discontinuing VICE News Tonight on VICE TV (the last VNT broadcast will be in May).  It’s clear that we need to accelerate VICE News’ transition to the platforms where its biggest audiences are – on our owned and operated channels where we have a direct relationship with our audience, on Paramount+ with Showtime, FAST Channels, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and via documentary programming for streaming platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max and Tubi. We believe this strategic focus strongly positions VICE’s incredibly important news coverage for the future.

Going forward, VICE News will be produced by our News Productions and Publishing divisions jointly under Subrata De, EVP, News, and Global Head of Programming and Development, and Cory Haik, COO for News and Entertainment – two of the most talented media executives in our industry. Our longform documentary and premium series work will be produced out of our News Productions division under Subrata, who will continue to oversee global news production for all linear and streaming platforms, including VICE TV. Our daily global VICE News journalism will be produced out of our Publishing division, under Cory, with VICE News and Motherboard now organized alongside our other digital brands: VICE, Refinery29, Unbothered and i-D, delivering our digital content across platforms and our VMG network. We will also be unifying all of our news content under VICE News, which will now be our single overarching global News brand. The teams will continue to work closely together, in a coordinated and collaborative manner focused on the shared vision for VICE News’ important role in global news coverage.

Our global human resources team will begin notifying employees whose jobs are directly impacted by these changes. If you have questions, you should reach out to your managers or HRBP.

We hope you understand that these changes were not made lightly, and that it is extremely painful to see our colleagues leave. VICE News began as a small team committed to shining a light on news in corners of the world that were being ignored by the mainstream press. Our team is part of our family and an important part of what built the VICE News brand into what it is today, but as the media industry continues to rapidly evolve and our audience consumes content in new ways, this transformation is a necessary step to safeguard the journalism for which VICE has always excelled and the future for VMG.

Thank you,

Bruce & Hozefa

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