Successful startup Vice.com isn’t so much a media empire as it is a wildly successful uprising within the media. It’s the little punk brother who grew up and made good by getting a killer education without losing his edge. After earning some serious credibility with their coverage of global political developments like the ongoing Ukrainian revolution, Vice has launched its own dedicated news site. Vice is also partnering with FreemantleMedia, the company behind “American Idol” among other TV hits, to create a Vice food platform for both online and on the air content.
It’s certainly not by imitating the status quo of news media that Vice earned its hard news bones. Just look to Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith, the guy who regularly leaves his comfy digs in New York to see what’s going down in the corners of war-torn Liberia, which is something the major news networks won’t touch with an 800mm lens. We love the work Shane Smith does, and we’re excited to see what his team has to offer through the news and food sites. In fact, we’d love it if even more of Vice’s drop-down menus and investigations got full promotions. Here are a few spinoffs the media upstart should consider iterating on.
ESPN may stock its extraneous channels with the minutia of miniature golf, but it’s only Vice that grabs news about the insane (but increasingly likely) future of full-contact melee sports with robot suits. The consistent draw of Vice has been its willingness to seek out the stories that nobody else is telling, but people obviously really want to see. For those of us who are bored to tears with the same menu of just football, baseball, basketball, and the occasional peppering of soccer when the editors are feeling frisky, a full-on Vice Sports site dedicated to the strange, extreme, and innovative world of athletics would be a dream come true.
Vice doesn’t go to the gaming culture well very often, but when they do, it’s for something nobody else in that super-saturated niche of journalism wants to talk about seriously. There was a great article back in May of 2013 when actor/artist James Franco offered an editorial about games addiction and, to an extent, the deeper reasons why we play video games in the first place. People who are even marginally interested in games can get all the industry updates and gossip from a million other sources, but a sharp look at the people within gaming culture and the myriad of oddities that spring up from that ever-more-pervasive bit of pop culture is seriously lacking. What are you waiting for, Vice? Get on it before someone else does!
It may seem like we’re ungrateful for asking Vice to up the science content, but Vice, please up your science content. Don’t get us wrong, we love the stuff you run on Motherboard, especially when you give us the inside scoop about NASA, but we’re itching for something a little more practical. A site dedicated to producing educational scientific content that won’t make us want to drop an imaginary class would be just peachy, especially if it mixed articles, videos, and interactive content. There’s enough controversy and misinformation out there about everything from solar power to frickin’ fracking, so a no-BS approach to injecting some science into Vice viewers’ brains would not only be fun, it’d be a public service.
Vice stays vital by staying young, but one area it hasn’t really put much energy into is the world of finance. Really, hear us out. Generation Y, the very people Vice wants to inform and engage, have an increasing amount of spending power, but they’re spending it differently than their parents. In an era of crowdfunding, sharp awareness of economic disparity and disconcertingly young tech-sector billionaires, maybe it’s time the Vice goes whole-hog into market talk. We’d love to see profiles about new companies that are truly interesting and that are looking for investors, advice from people who really know how to live on the kind of budget a lot of Gen-Yers actually maintain, plus explanations of economic issues that are honest for a change. Maybe Vice could even go the extra mile and up their site to give their readers meaningful tools to start their own businesses.
Sure, comedy websites tend to live in their own, ghettoized corners of the Internet and they tend not to mix often with the big, serious kids in the news world, but we’re not asking Vice to ape The Onion or anything. We love the Kids Telling Dirty Jokes series as much as the next guy, but what we really want is a very Vice-like offering of incisive, informed, and no-garbage comedy that cuts to the point. We have faith that they’d be able to mix it up with funny stuff about modern life and bigger picture political humor. Vice’s news content already makes a habit of speaking truth to power, so giving the reporters a chance to let their hair down could result in some killer content.
Vice has been upping its video content for years and has had big success on HBO. We think that’s great, but we want to see more than a long list of short-run video series in a little “Video” section of the main website. A dedicated online network of original Vice programming would be a great way for up-and-coming content producers to strut their stuff, plus it would be easier to use than trying to find the videos piecemeal in the current site. If nothing else, offering Vice viewers an alternative to cable (possibly with an originally scripted series) would be a boon to cord-cutters everywhere. Netflix can’t have all the fun.
These may all just be dreams, but the launch of Vice News and the upcoming food site give us hope that the Vice uprising will continue into other spheres. There’s plenty of room to grow, especially for a voice as strong and consistent as Vice’s. What sites would you like to see Vice develop?