Jane Wagner

Vice: The Innovating Innovator

The line between “media” and “digital media” is basically nonexistent in today’s world. The landscape of the field has evolved in such a way that a media company that lacks digital components has no chance of surviving. Print is still very much alive, but in different ways than even a decade ago. As the millennial age group begins to enter the workforce, the drive for digital media innovations intensifies. Some may even go as far as calling it a revolution.

Vice has done wonders in the ways of innovating media. The enormous company grew from a small, free magazine called the Voice of Montreal in 1994 to a well-respected brand that has infiltrated just about every platform imaginable and is worth over $2.5 billion. Possibly even more impressive than that is how it has been able to capture and hold the attention of the most elusive demographic: millennials.

Vice constantly churns out incredibly well-reported, high quality pieces that have ranged from serious, hard news stories to ridiculous topics that really make one wonder how the idea was pitched. For example, today’s homepage promotes “Here’s What US Politicians Are Saying About the Terror Attacks in Brussels,” “Why Stealing Legos May Be the Perfect Crime” and “Mean Girl Crack Dealers Fighting at the School Dance.” To be fair, that last one happens to be a comic, but, excuse me—what? Anyone who reads Vice religiously knows that’s just Vice being Vice.

It has a presence in just about every digital category you can imagine. Social media? Check.Snapchat feed? Check. Mobile application? More than one. The list goes on and on. It even has sub-blogs that cover topics like food, women’s news, sports, music and strictly hard news. Further more, each blog also has its own Youtube channel. Most recently, Vice has launched its own television channel called Viceland. It must be pretty confident in its content to run it 24 hours-a-day on its own network.

Its next venture is to completely integrate virtual reality into the content it is putting out on a daily basis. The technology is still new and “regular people” haven’t yet adopted the clunky, awkward glasses into their everyday wardrobes, but the bigwigs of Vice know it’s looming somewhere in the distant future.

Vice CEO Shane Smith

It will be incredibly interesting to see where Vice goes in the next few years. As Chris Lavergne said in his Observer piece, “Vice is going ‘balls to the wall’ trying to become the next MTV.” That premonition may only come true if it completely abandons the integrity it hammers into what it puts out, and begins constantly broadcasting mind-numbing junk TV. But, that doesn’t seem possible with Shane Smith and his beard running the ship. Vice has had such a large part in the media revolution that’s still happening today, it would be an immense waste to see it just be bought-out down the line by some lack-luster, big company or lame rich guy with a lot of time on his hands.

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