VICE: The Media Tycoon That Tells It Like It Is!
Journalists have always taken it upon themselves to portray our world in a pre-tailored fashion. A touchy subject for many, transparent journalism today has become an almost mythical, or to the very least - taboo - concept.
Fed up with suppressing his voice in the name of political correctness, journalist Shane Smith dared to make journalism bold again. Taught by the spirit of Hubers S Thomson - a risque writer to many - Shane and two of his friends created VICE, a platform that brings unconventional media content to the spotlight!
Called the definitive guide for enlightening information, VICE does not shy away from reporting on all-worldly affairs and trusts refined technology in delivering heartfelt and relevant global stories by tapping into almost every aspect of life, business, and human existence.
Being loud across an industry used to being partially shushed was something Shane did well - and it was his authentic voice that ultimately made a staggering media difference!
Shane Smith was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1969. In his family, everyone was doing their dream job - his father was a programmer father and his mother a promising paralegal. Even as a child, Shane had a sense of rebelliousness, one that never let him rest in the fight for justice. Shane’s adolescence, on the other hand, was very much imbued with the spirit of the enthusiastic 80s.
Just like any other teenager, Shane was a party animal, but when his father first picked up his son’s habit, he bought him a signed first-edition copy of Fear and Loathing. For Shane, reading that book was a learning experience, which impacted him all throughout his youthhood.
As a brand new fan of Hunter S. Thompson, the book’s author, Shane appreciated his refreshing and hedonistic approach towards life, love, and other drugs. Out of all his writing powers, Shane found Thompson’s first-person narration to be the most impressive, as it felt he had been expressing his opinion without fearing judgment.
Influenced by the writing genius’s exceptional storytelling, Shane wanted to, at least, attempt to adopt Thompson’s writing tactics and feel the same freedom when creating content that he did. Luckily, a cultural revolution was in the making and the flamboyant 80s made the perfect testing ground.
The New Era
Shane’s libertine spirit made college life a breeze. Shane graduated from Carleton University with a degree in English literature and political science. While at university, Shane got to showcase his artistic skills as a musician and frequently played in local punk bands. In his early 20s, Smith frequently traveled around Western Europe, which helped enrich his cultural awareness.
After college, he even moved to Europe for a while, where he worked as a journalist. It wasn’t until 1994 when Shane made his first real attempt at creating the kind of media platform he and his friends wanted to see.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Upon returning to Canada in 1994, Shane and two of his friends, Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes, founded Vice Media and consequently, Vice Magazine. Vice Magazine was based in Montreal, Canada, and its main focus was to report on the trending music artists. From the very beginning, Vice Magazine began writing reforms against the established social system.
Their stories were gritty and witty, yet had a certain polishment to them. Depicting the truth for what it was caused the magazine to immediately explode on the market. The writing style of the magazine was not aimed at class but at innovation and worldwide recognition. As Shane put it himself, the magazine’s writing approach was more or less, defined by “immersionism”.
In layman’s terms, the writing team would treat themselves with a generous dose of liquid courage and let the booze do the honest talking for them. The platform first broke onto the market locally, in Montreal. However, when the magazine noticed it could appeal to a greater audience expanding beyond Canadian borders, they did all in their power to get VICE’s name out there and serve global readers with unique, transparent, and relevant stories!
Supported by groundbreaking funding of $4 million by Canadian investor Richard Szalwinski, VICE relocated its HQ from Montreal to downtown NYC. Shane found the city bursting with energy, sass, and class and thought it complemented his insatiably rebellious spirit to perfection.
The Rise of an Empire
What brought VICE its initial success was its joint venture with MTV Networks. As the deal concluded, VICE had the chance to feature their documentaries covering anything from music to tech, history, and art, and have their say in creating stellar news.
While the move brought VICE popularity it did little for their finances, which caused a greater problem than the team had anticipated. However, in 2013, a miracle investor and media mogul, Rupert Murdo, heard the word about the company and decided to support it with an investment worth a whopping $70 million. The same year, VICE’s first docu-series episode aired on HBO.
The story behind the brand name is also an interesting one. Initially, the team wanted a graffiti-like logo that carried the name Voice. However, the team’s artist felt Voice was far too cheesy for the company’s mission and gave it an edge by renaming it to VICE.
Instead of just writing worldwide stories on ongoing events, VICE also did a wonderful thing of writing personal stories of people who needed their voices heard. Even today, VICE lends voices to the voiceless and shares shocking and inspiring human truths from around the world.
After their platform expanded, VICE became even more confident in its storytelling. Their natural talent for proper journalism attracted a series of renowned broadcasters who wanted to collaborate with VICE. Such included business giants like Walt Disney Company, A&E Networks, and TPG Capital.
Making up for technological disadvantages of the 90s and early 00s, today, VICE has grown into the greatest digital media empire worldwide. For some, luck had a great part in this success story, but for the VICE team, it took decades in the making to become an overnight success.
As per the platform’s employees and staffers, there is no better leader or a bigger forward-thinker for VICE than Shane himself. Although praised by many, Shane remains a humble owner of the brand he built and likes to admit he had seen a bunch of challenges on his way to fame. The biggest challenge in growing his business was to
find the right channels to sell it. Once a rookie in marketing, Shane had to teach himself the ropes of quality sales and trust his intuition in collaborating with just the right people and businesses.
Another issue the company faced was their inability to run the platform solo, especially financially, which led them to partner up with some of the biggest household names, like Nike - which ultimately gave VICE the strength to keep quality reporting alive!
Vice for the Win
Nowadays, VICE is spread over 36 countries worldwide and has over 3,000 employees. Currently, this company’s total worth is $2 billion, but Shane’s restless ambitions are oriented towards an even bigger expansion, where VICE becomes the ultimate blend of the best media platforms - MTV, ESPN, and CNN - but better!
Despite the veneer of doubt that VICE has experienced over the years, especially in terms of its radical approach towards providing quality news and fair journalism, its withstanding importance in the media industry proves that forming opinions on a whim is so last-decade and that what the reading world needs instead is to stay in the know!