Vice Media has canceled “Vice News Tonight,” announcing Thursday that the news program’s final airdate will be May 25.
The move comes amid company-wide layoffs at Vice Media and a strategic refocus on digital video and news documentary verticals.
“We believe this strategic focus strongly positions VICE’s incredibly important news coverage for the future,” co-CEOs Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala wrote in a staff memo Thursday.
At the top of their announcement, Dixon and Lokhandwala cited the “current market conditions and business realities facing VMG and the broader news and media industry” as they join a growing list of media companies to implement layoffs over the last year — a list that most recently includes the shuttering of BuzzFeed News.
“We hope you understand that these changes were not made lightly, and that it is extremely painful to see our colleagues leave,” the CEOs said. “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 of VMG.”
In addition to canceling “Vice News Tonight,” the company will be undergoing a larger restructuring that will see a refocus on its digital video business and news documentary and series production businesses while transitioning to platforms with wider audiences, including Paramount+ with Showtime, FAST Channels, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max and Tubi.
Vice News also now falls to the leadership of Subrata De EVP, News, and Global Head of Programming and Documentary, and Cory Haik, COO for News and Entertainment. The former will oversee long-form documentary and premium series; Haik will oversee daily global Vice News journalism as part of the company’s publishing division.
In a memo provided to TheWrap, De additionally announced that her first order of business is to cut Vice’s audio team, which was responsible for the company’s audio work and podcasts. “The work of this team has been outstanding and we’re forever grateful to everyone who has contributed to these brilliant series,” De said.
Also winding down and eventually ending production will be the Vice World News short-form video team. “They have created some of our most talked about and textured work,” she said. “But as we reduce the scale of digital video series, we are forced to slow and eventually end production at this time.”
Vice Media’s restructuring announced Thursday comes after a whirlwind year that culminated in CEO Nancy Dubuc exiting the struggling company after a five-year stint as CEO.
Just last year, Vice Media Group tried, and failed, to sell, despite a price tag between $1 billion and $1.5 billion — a steep fall from its valuation at $5.7 billion in 2017. The company secured $30 million in debt financing in February from Fortress Investment Group, which had previously backed Vice to the tune of $250 million with partners. It also extended the maturity on an existing loan that was to be paid by the end of last year.
Other major investors in the company include Disney, TPG, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, the Raine Group and WPP.
“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,” De concluded in Thursday’s memo. “Thank you for your resilience, camaraderie and for all you have done to make VICE News so exceptional.”
Read Dixon and Lokhandwala’s memo in full below:
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 manager and 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 of VMG.
Bruce & Hozefa