Vice Media Group announced that it was streamlining its news division, including layoffs and the cancelation of its signature newscast, Vice News Tonight.
Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, co-CEOs of Vice Media Group, said that the changes were in “response to the current market conditions and business realities facing VMG and the broader news and media industry.”
“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,” they wrote.
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The staff reductions are the latest to hit the news business, with both traditional and digital outlets hit by a downturn in the ad market. Last week, BuzzFeed announced that it is shutting down BuzzFeed News. ABC News also has gone through layoffs, with word this week that Nate Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight, would be leaving.
Vice Media also is in the midst of efforts to sell or recapitalize. Nancy Dubuc exited as CEO of Vice Media Group in February.
Dixon and Lokhandwala said that Vice News would be streamlined to “focus on our growing digital video business and our News documentary and series production business for VTV and distribution partners worldwide.”
Vice News Tonight, which airs on Vice TV, will have its last broadcast in May, they said.
Dozens of staffers are affected by the cutbacks, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Vice News is scaling back its audio team, although podcasts will continue to be produced, and Vice World News short-form video will be ended. Subrata De, executive vice president of Vice News, wrote in a memo that the Vice World News team, which will impacted by the cuts, “have created some of our most talked about and textured work. But as we reduce the scale of digital video series, we are forced to slow and eventually end production at this time.”
Vice’s digital news team also will be folded into the publishing division, under the consolidated banner of Vice News. Katie Drummond will continue to oversee the Vice Digital brands across news and entertainment, and will report to Cory Haik, COO of Vice Media. A meeting to outline the changes is planned for next week.
The Vice News Tonight newscast has been on the air for nearly seven years, with more than 1,000 episodes produced. It was originally broadcast on HBO, but then relaunched on Vice TV, the joint venture with A+E Networks. The newscast won a Peabody for its 2017 coverage of the Charlottesville riots. It also was the most Emmy nominated newscast from 2018 to 2022.
De wrote in the memo, “For nearly seven years, VNT has been a lynchpin for us – a guiding light to so many, and an industry leader in awards and storytelling. To be able to see this kind of journalism, first on HBO and then on Vice TV, was game-changing and historic. From Charlottesville, to those brutal nights in Minneapolis, to the streets of Mosul, Baghdad, Kabul, Port-au-Prince and Kherson, millions of people watched the VNT pieces shared on multiple platforms and have felt such a profound connection to the show and to the people who make it all happen.”
CNN first reported on the changes at the company.
De wrote, “Today’s actions underscore the collective need to figure out how to get this business model right and support fact-based journalism. Our audience wants it — they respond to it — and they will stay for it.”
Here is the complete memo from Dixon and Lokhandwala:
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.
Bruce & Hozefa