New Media – Streamlining and Consolidating
Pondering digital media, indie zines and all the jittery online outlets as they transfigure themselves in a Darwinian jungle.
In the wake of heavy layoffs at Buzzfeed, Huff Po, Gannett and Verizon Media Group last month, hipster news/Pop culture portal Vice Media has become the latest unicorn to pick off personnel and streamline operations. HQ’d in Brooklyn with dozens of satellite offices around the world, Vice cut roughly 250 jobs from its payroll yesterday (with more to come, according to insiders) as the OTT aspirant tries to reorient its strategy in a rapidly morphing media space. The layoffs come amid similar cost-cutting measures at competitor platforms like McClatchy, Machinima and more.
Streamlining staff along with overhauling Vice’s iffy biz model is expected to have a material impact on the organization’s 2,500-person team. The move was executed to have an impact on ‘non-loss-making segments’ like film and TV production, which have razor-thin margins but offer pockets of growth for ads and ‘sponsored content.’ Every vertical – from i-D and Garage to Amuse and Noisey – will feel the pinch as the hipster pilgrims work to keep their channels afloat during President Trump’s splintering, entropy-inducing regime, which has created constant conceptual chaos for new media’s editors, Millennial programmers and Gen Z consumers.
“Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks,” CEO Nancy Dubuc (who worked at A&E before) wrote in a note to staff on Friday morning. “We will make Vice the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future.”
Dubuc became CEO in May, inheriting the mantle from Shane Smith, who announced in March that he would step back into the role of executive chairman. Her mission is to deliver profitable results to the punk-y digital and print platform (Vice publishes ebbing print mags like VICE Mag, i-D and Garage, albeit with less pizzazz than ever), and figure out how to best allocate more than $1 billion from private equity investors such as Fox and Disney, who are a bit peeved at Vice’s stuffy content, according to people we know there.
Vice’s ‘efficiency-seeking’ comes less than a week after hype-maker BuzzFeed, insomnia-inducing Yahoo, and others streamline more than 1,000 jobs in what is a big broadside against ‘commoditized’ journalists and conformist editors. Verizon Media, which owns Yahoo and the Huffington Post, slashed roughly 800 jobs, or 7 percent, of its global workforce last month. Their content is amongst the drabbest out there and is punctuated by progressive platitudes and priggish virtue signalling. Yawn and good riddance. Others like Purple Diary, The Onion and ReCode are also on a careening choo-choo.
Worries abound about Facebook’s impact on the digital ‘news’ domain and smaller fries’ lack of scale, strategic vision and the Darwinian fury that will inevitably engulf them. Tech is a fundamental factor, obvs: outlets fret that savvy tweaks in data structures and algos would wipe out digital zines (especially the ho hum ‘journalism’ done at the aforementioned outlets) and trigger a wave of creative destruction and consolidation. Conservative outlets, ‘alt-‘ publishers and indie aggregators like Breitbart, The Daily Beast, The Blaze, Zero-Hedge and The Daily Wire, believe it or not, are taking market share from atrophying outlets like Vice, Dazed Digital and other native ad purveyors and underground infotainment players. The prevaricating op-ed sloths (um, HuffPo, The New Republic, etc.) will continue to get journalistically and economically ‘droned’ for being systematically drab and increasingly undifferentiated. We expect Vice to continue down its slow-mo death spiral and like-minded ‘new media’ competitors to follow suit.
At VIVISXN, growth is expected to continue to the upside and we’re feeling pretty darn perky. So shoot over your CV if you’re interested in penning op-eds, programming machine learning frameworks, or curating art/fashion via our eye-popping verts.
Images Wikimedia Commons
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