Came across an interesting write-up about VICE on NPR today. The media group has been seen as very progressive and innovative amongst many of its fans, but with their chronicling of Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea, VICE has been getting some attention from people outside of their fan base. With a TV show airing tonight, their attention couldn’t have come at a better time. With a huge pulse on the Millennial generation, is VICE’s way of doing things a blueprint for the future?
By Dan Bobkoff via NPR
How did Dennis Rodman end up having dinner with Kim Jong Un in North Korea? It was the idea of Vice Media, which has grown from a counterculture magazine into a full-fledged youth media conglomerate.
Friday night, it premieres a documentary series on HBO, a kind of coming-out moment into the mainstream.
‘I Wish We Were Weirder’
Vice Media’s contradictions smack you in the face as soon as you step into its Brooklyn headquarters. You’re just as likely to see rapper Snoop Lion walking in as you are journalist Fareed Zakaria.
In its glass conference rooms, you might see corporate-looking PowerPoints or staff looking earnestly at pictures of nude, tattooed women. A team from the tech website holds serious meetings about reporting on the Cannabis Cup in Colorado.
“Everyone [always says], ‘Vice is so weird!’ and I’m like, look, I wish we were weirder,” says Vice’s CEO and co-founder, Shane Smith.
He’s a burly, bearded Canadian who has built Vice into a hipper version of a big media conglomerate. And the company is now succeeding where other media companies have failed.
“We do music, we do books, we do magazines, we do online, we do mobile, we do television, we do film. We do what everyone else does. We do it weirder, and we do it younger, and we do it in a different way and in a different voice,” he says.
In its nearly 20 years, Vice has gone from a small Canadian magazine to figuring out the holy grail of media: how to capture an international audience of aloof 18- to 24-year-olds.
In the office’s edit rooms, young producers work on everything from a food series, to a film about Somali pirates, to interviews about electronic dance music.
These projects violate all the rules of what’s supposed to make money on the Web. Articles can approach New Yorker length. Videos can last an hour, covering topics both serious and salacious. They attract millions of views, as do the ads that accompany each video.
Vice’s secret sauce has attracted big-name investors like Tom Freston, who ran old-media conglomerate Viacom after helping found MTV in the ’80s. He has pushed Vice to expand to reach urban youth around the world.
“People in Cape Town, people in Moscow, people in Berlin, people in New York, they all sort of share a certain sensibility,” he says.
Vice now employs 1,000 people across 34 countries, producing dozens of stories and videos a day.
This narrow focus on millennials has had big results. Vice’s 28 percent…[Read Full Article HERE]