MEDIA I$ COMPLICIT! STRIKE VICE MEDIA

Get Artists Paid!: Our Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information on Vice Media.

Vice media: A self proclaimed “punk” magazine started in 1994 by the white supremacist Gavin McInnes, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. The Canadian magazine has since turned into a 2. 6 billion dollar global digital media and broadcasting company with 36 offices around the world.

Shane, Gavin and Suroosh (Gavin split with the company and now appears occasionally on Fox News — so actually not very far, and is constantly erupting in the news with racist and sexist commentary.)

Get Artists Paid is initiating an international strike against Vice Media and all of its subsidiaries starting March 2017.

Through this strike we will raise awareness on the unethical labor practices of Vice Media, the increasing amount of click bait content sold as news, and the contradictory conflicts of interest in running a business with Fox News media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Disney and Hearst Media, among other corporations. In order to seek independent, ethical and accountable information, we must de-legitimize Vice and all other mainstream, corporately tied media as credible news sources.

Here we have outlined reasons for a Vice strike, what you can do and what publications to support instead of Vice.

#1. Unethical labor practices:

“Most of the people who work here are 14 years old. They sit two inches from each other. We only employ millionaires’ children.” — Shane Smith, Vice co-founder and CEO.
“I was 18 and wanted to be on Vice, I didn’t know any better. You would get an email for a Coca Cola sponsorship for Vice, asking to submit up to 20 photos (for product placement) and receive 50€ per chosen photo. You could send them 20, they could take 0 and not pay you…What really pisses me off as an artist is that they pretend they are part of a subculture of artists, and some underground scene when really they are a company worth 2 billion dollars. At least Vogue doesn’t pretend to not be exactly what it is.” — A former Vice freelance photographer in Europe.

Shane Smith, the CEO of Vice, has referred to his media company in Williamsburg as a factory of “trustafarians” which is reiterated in the 136 reviews of working for VICE, most of which say you need a trust fund to afford to work there. 9/10 reviews say that the pay is terrible, the company is a revolving door with no room to grow, and you might have to get a side job at Starbucks to help make rent (while the CEO spends 300k on dinners in Vegas). Others say that the workplace is misogynistic, racist, dominated by bro culture, and that money collects at the top 1% rarely trickling down to those who have built the company up churning out work constantly for little to no pay.

“Compensation is simply too low considering the scale of the company now and Offer raises and not assume that VICE is the same punk company it was before.” — A former Vice employee.

Taken from someone’s post on Facebook:

i AM SICK OF THIS.
#ExposureEconomymustfail
Number 1 extractivist cultural corporation: Vice and all of its little evil demon affiliates. I’ve had the WORST experiences with them repeatedly, to the point where they have about 6h of footage of me talking and will not give it back to me after I changed my mind about working with them because of the #gaze. I just couldn't.
They have also monopolized the subculture media business. About 90% of articles shared across the Anglo world but increasingly in Latin America too for example — that are about identities, looks of liberation, even social organizing nowadays, comes from Vice (Broadly, Noisey, etc.)
They do NOT pay anyone. They extract and distort. They are much bigger than one may think. Vice CEO dude has a networth of 1.27 billion. Has anyone had the worst experiences with them? Does anyone else find their identitary empire really sus? Can we stop sharing content made by them? Can we stop working for them for free?”
Employee Reviews of Vice Media

#2. CLICK BAIT AND FEMINISM

“High-quality content and innovative tech platforms will drive Vice through this next period of growth on our relentless quest for total media domination.” — CEO, Shane Smith

Vice is notorious for co-opting social struggles, in an effort to make them marketable. As a media company made of white wealthy older men exploiting the labor and political ideas of marginalized people for its success, Vice is essentially (by textbook definition) the patriarchy we are trying to subvert.

Almost all of Vice’s “reporting” is from the POV of a white male. Even Broadly, their new platform, “for women who know their place” which is “devoted to representing the “multiplicity of women’s experiences” is ultimately part of Vice’s imperialistic vision for a mass media monopoly.

Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes has said that when Vice would get critiqued for lack of diversity, he would use black and female pseudonyms (instead of hiring actual women and black people.)

i-D, the fashion, art, youth culture magazine recently acquired by Vice, is its newest platform for click bait revolving around feminism and other social movements.

Clickonomy: The emerging economy which appeals to advertisers and sponsorships based on the number of clicks a website is ranking in.

Click bait: An eye-catching link on a website which encourages people to read on. It is often paid for by the advertiser (“Paid” click bait) or generates income based on the number of clicks.

The function of these headlines are not to actually “fight the patriarchy” (in turn making Vice as a male run company obsolete), the function is to attract a socially engaged audience, and enhance clicktivity on their site.

The fact that “patriarchy” has become a buzzword to decorate a website in part owned by Rupert Murdoch and funded by corporations like Nike etc. which are notoriously white male owned and exploitative of mostly black and brown women and children…is contradictory to say the least.

“While Vice purports to be growing up and including women more, it’s actually not a good place to work for women. The boys club culture is embedded in everything — even some of the women there are sexist…If you’re a woman or a minority don’t expect much room for contributing, titles , you’re essentially there to make the place look diverse and ‘sexy’ (expect to be asked if you’re on Tinder (female) or to be given grunt work with little say (minority).” (Also Violence and sexuality) — Review from Glassdoor.com
“The labor ethics are disgusting. Everyone is underpaid to the point where many writers and editors can barely afford to live in New York and might be better off waiting tables. Lots of full — time employees are contracted as freelancers and kept that way for months or even years so the company doesn’t have to pay for their health insurance.” — Review from Glassdoor.com

This is a generic set of presumptuous questions that i-D interns will e-mail to women of color artists they troll on the internet (as part of their job):

How would you describe your overall aesthetic? Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? You seem to focus a lot of race and gender, what is it you’re trying to do with your art? Why is it so important to give visibility to women of colour? What does the female gaze mean to you?Should one’s gender or ethnicity determine ones work?Things like feminism and diversity have become part of the cultural conversation in a way it has never before, why do you think that is?

There is very little research, or effort from the person asking questions. It is clear that they have reached out to the artist because of their politics and identity. Explaining ones practice to a company like this, especially when being used for your social capitol, is labor, and should be compensated. Unless i-D makes a phone call, does some research and takes their own photos (or pays for them) etc. they need to pay people who make their job so effortless.

“Better news reporting wouldn’t just be more expensive, it would threaten these business interests. To get the straight story, it’s necessary to turn to independent and community sources which don’t have such conflicts of interest.” — Aaron Swartz, June 11th, 2006

#3. CORPORATE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Vice media profits from the corporations and structures it weakly critiques, thus marketing itself as having content of an independent magazine but actually in practice is making money off of the oppression of poor people, people of color, people in the third world and people in occupied spaces. Vice leads a delusional message of DIY when in fact it’s far from it : Vice is just as anti establishment as Donald Trump and his 1%er cabinet.

$$$$$$$
“We’re not going to cover monetary policy. For us, we embed with Occupy Wall Street, the communists, the young people”. Shane Smith, CEO of Vice, 2014

CEO Shane Smith’s business practices contradict any perceived solidarity of Vice and the Occupy movement. As a media company which is being financed by the likes of Coca Cola, Donald Trump’s new labor exec, and Fox news corp, Vice is functioning within and for these exploitative corporations.

RUPERT MURDOCH

Vice is now owned in part by Fox News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch. News Corp alone has a revenue of 30 billion dollars and includes other media holdings such as National Geographic, NY Post, NY Daily News, Fox and TV Guide. As a prominent 1%er, Murdoch also has close ties to Lord Jacob Rosthchild, sharing an oil company called Genie Energy, in occupied Syria with Rosthchild and Dick Cheney. (The answer to the U.S.’s involvement in Syria: oil, power, money, and overthrowing anyone who gets in the way of this.)

DISNEY

Disney now owns 10% of Vice media. Disney is on the list of BDS companies to boycott, which are invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Disney CEO Bob Igor now sits on Trumps council. There is a Petition here circulating attention around this: “Media companies should serve and represent their audiences, not support racist policies that have wrongfully detained hundreds of people. By cooperating with Trump, Disney is endorsing his bigotry. We won’t stand for that.” And we agree, wholeheartedly with this statement, additionally that VICE should not support bigotry by being bought out by racist and harmful companies.

DAPL

Vice is complicit in the violence and neo-colonialism against Native Americans in their coverage of and consent in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Vice’s media team has been critiqued by people at the Standing Rock camp for racism, disrespecting the sacred site and siding with police. Vice has a business relationship with Bank of America (a huge proponent in the funding of the DAPL), through their Business of Life show.

“At least half of the Native people working on this series ended up quitting before the series was complete because they couldn’t handle the accepted white supremacist Culture at Vice…The Vice employees who came to Standing Rock ended up conducting themselves in entitled, disrespectful ways by spreading rumors and half truths about Red Warrior Camp when asked to leave because they work for a corporate empire…Don’t let your struggles be coopted by corporations that are owned by people that fund the destruction of our earth and poisoning our people. Don’t give permission to these foul corporations to use your likeness or profit from your story.” — Water Protector at Standing Rock.

(One can make a similar connection to CNN and the reason they were silent on issues around Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access pipeline when you trace their sponsorship money to Wells Fargo and Exxon mobil, two huge investors in oil pipelines.)

The lack of financial transparency blurs the lines for media consumers who may not notice the connections between Vice, its sponsors and the social injustice which Vice covers under the guise of journalism.

“We believe that these new partnerships position us at the forefront of the coming convergence of media and technology, while preserving and protecting our independence,” Smith said.
“It’s libel to say I use my newspapers to support other business interests. The fact is, I haven’t got any other business interests.” – Rupert Murdoch

Both Murdoch and Smith are trying to maintain an unbiased public image, which is impossible when your brand is built on and dependent upon advertising for other corporations.

American Legislative Exchange Council

Vice is connected to A.L.E.C. a “non profit” company made up of corporations and politicians who write legislation together, and are responsible for the creation of the private prison industry / mass incarceration through its relationship with the Corrections Corporation of America.

A major player in A.L.E.C. is Verizon who is connected to Vice through Hearst (which co-owns Hearst Verizon) and has a share in Vice. When there is no such thing as separation of corporation and state, there is no separation between corporately sponsored media and state. Therefore the content chosen to be on Vice’s platform will inherently be biased towards the state and the corporations which they rely on for money. There are important and compromising stories which will never be on massive platforms because they challenge the false narrative of our media’s constructed reality.

Vice is also a marketing agency.

“When we consider that capitalism itself pits us against each other, are we questioning that?” — Jacob Appelbaum, “Your politics are in everything that you write”.

Virtue (lol), Vice’s in house agency recently helped create Collectively.org, a platform geared towards eco-friendly progressives. The problem is that Collectively is entirely backed by corporate sponsors (all of which Virtue accrued) including Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Nestle etc. — companies associated with sweatshop production, water privatization, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, etc.

A person who used to work for Vice in creative direction told us about an instance when the media company received 30k in sponsorship money from guitar hero. Vice asked an indie band to do a video content piece with them, and upon the ex vice employee asking if the band would get any money, they responded “We’re not fucking commies” and laughed.

#4. CENSORSHIP:

Conflict of Interest with Sponsors and Journalists

A former Vice freelance writer got this response from Vice after writing a piece on unfair labor practices at SXSW: “You really stirring some shit with that piece and we’re having a bunch of discussions about it. Basically we’re now worried that an event we’re doing with AT&T at festival might violate those same labor laws SXSW is violating… anyway, let’s not worry about that for the moment.” The piece the writer wrote never went up and clearly links Vice and SXSW as both having unfair labor laws. The writer was terminated shortly after another story about boycotting the NFL was not approved, and another “shit storm” occurred. This conflict of interest is a hallmark of how Vice handles protest and dissension for their own corporate interest. However, at least they managed to get this incredible think piece on SXSW

Vice Media, a company valued at $2.5 billion, issued a cease and desist to a struggling-to-pay-rent indie latinx band in Los Angeles, for having a name “too similar sounding in name and logo to Vice media”; Vice Versa. “The band, the letter argues, is “infringing on the exclusive rights held by Vice Media in the VICE® Mark” and is “likely to confuse consumers as to the source of services offered under [ViceVersa’s] mark, and wrongly implies that Vice Media sponsors, endorses or is otherwise affiliated with [ViceVersa].” Source.

It is disturbing that Vice is worried about being associated with people who would otherwise be considered their target audience, but they are openly associated with Coca Cola and Nike: two companies known for their exploitative and inhumane labor and environmental practices.

For Vice to be bought out in part by Fox News “to increase the reach of the platform by all means necessary”, is like if leaders of Occupy Wall Street had been taking money from big banks to “help spread their message”. This would obviously not help their message and would mean some sort of failure on the part of the group’s ability to be autonomous and critique the 1%. It is also consenting to Fox News as an entity, and its continuation as a right wing media platform. Does Vice NEED the money? Does Vice NEED to drop 300k on a dinner and Vegas and does it NEED to not pay its writers?

Vice’s masthead *perceived race stats

#5. Vice’s offices are overwhelmingly white, while VICE’s representation is overwhelmingly poor people of color.

As a company that takes credit for “hipsterdom,” Vice has contributed largely to the gentrification of Williamsburg, using it as its “cultural hub” and obtaining a 75,000 square-foot warehouse that the city paid for in tax breaks (showing the cities bias towards supporting a corporation and not the existing residents of the neighborhood, which is a common trend with gentrification). This has pushed out local residents, increased homelessness, and has made VICE a factor in the 174% overall increase in how expensive the neighborhood has become in the last decade.

Vice’s sensationalized content reinforces stereotypes depicting black people as drug dealers, women as objects, third world countries as exotic, barbaric and archaic etc: “Getting High on HIV medication”, “Donkey Sex: The Most Bizarre Tradition”, “Sex, Slavery and Drugs in Bangladesh”, “Getting High Injecting Snake Venom”, “The cannibal emperor of Bangui”, “Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan”, “Sneaking into North Korea”, — all emphasizing controversial aspects of other cultures without any sincerity or depth into people’s lives (treating people in foreign countries as objects, dollar signs and content), while largely ignoring controversial truths in our own country, and the effect this has on the rest of the world.

Thomas Morton watching someone make crack in Atlanta.

Vice will do a feature on trap music in Atlanta which reinforces negative stereotypes about poor black people, by showing them making crack, meanwhile Vice CEO Shane Smith has reportedly given out coke bags as christmas bonuses. (Money that comes from his ability to create content like the Atlanta Trap doc series).

Meanwhile, an article has come out about a purported drug scandal happening in the Vice offices.

“Former Vice Canada Editor Allegedly Recruited Reporters as Drug Smugglers (Report)” :

“Youth-skewing media group Vice Media on Thursday faced allegations a former music editor in its Canadian headquarters recruited young reporters to be drug couriers as part of an international cocaine-smuggling ring.”

Vice CEO Shane Smith in the middle.

A search for Berta Cáceres, a Honduran human rights activist who was murdered by a US backed coup, yields no search results on Vice media’s website. A search for Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who has been imprisoned for over 40 years over a crime he did not commit comes up empty. There is no mention of ALEC (one of the most revealing organizations in terms of the prison industrial complex) in the coverage of mass incarceration, almost no content on white violence or crime in the united states, nothing on Morocco’s climate change summit or the millions of muslims who march against Isis. There is no critique of rape in the NFL (a purported conflict of interest) or unfair labor practices of companies which might jeopardize their own credibility etc.

“Below market pay (all the more shocking since so much money is flowing into Vice. Primary emphasis on sponsorships and web metrics rather than journalism, very little diversity among staff yet almost all their videos are about people of color doing crazy or violent things, freelancers often conned out of money and sent to conflict areas with no support from the company…” — Review from Glassdoor.

POC representation in the president of VICELAND’s last film

“We’re the largest new media company, and we’re going to become the fourth-largest or fifth-largest, or maybe the third-largest [mainstream media company]. I don’t think it’s any secret that you’re going to see a bloodbath in the next 12 months of digital, mobile and terrestrial.” — Shane Smith, 2016.

Do we want to feel inclusivity from a platform which is connected to the prison industrial complex? We think the answer should be no. And if people think that calling themselves feminists, activists, intersectional etc. on a platform like Vice is propelling their movement or even genuine in representing their cause, they have been deceived. There are way too many grassroots media publications for us to be investing our time and labor into Vice.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Acknowledge that VICE is a structurally unsound multi-billion dollar corporation run by wealthy men, with ties to industries that profit off capitalism, slave labor and violence, and that they can afford to pay you. Your clicks, image and work for Vice directly translates financially when they present all of this information for ad revenue. Be aware and be critical.

As a writer

Do not do free work for VICE
Stop writing for VICE

As a musician

Do not do free work for VICE or work for “exposure”
Demand compensation for interviews
Demand you are paid for any image that shows up on VICE’s website, magazine or any other subsidiary or outlet under the brand

As an artist / creative

Do not do free work for VICE or work for “exposure”
Demand compensation for interviews. “Discussing and sharing artwork is part of (my) creative labor.”
Demand you are paid for any image that shows up on VICE’s website, magazine or any other subsidiary or outlet under their brand.

As a collective

Do not do free work for VICE or work for “exposure”
Demand compensation for interviews
Demand you are paid for any image that shows up on VICE’s website, magazine or any other subsidiary or outlet under the brand

As a consumer

Unfollow, avoid liking or sharing and avoid clicking on anything from any Vice channels:

“Instead of reporting on modern vices, this content company is succumbing to them. Until Vice implements a code of ethics; creators will find no long term benefits by contributing to Shane Smith’s advertorial quagmire. Vice’s GPS is set ‘$$$$’ and I think a boycott is an effective way to reroute an imploding brand.”
-Dan (Founder of “notvice.com”and Vice critic)

Other publications to support and (if relevant to you) submit work to:

La Liga Zine: La Liga is an online platform and print zine that showcases the many ways latinxs/chicanxs/latin americans are dissecting their cultural identities through different means of self expression. We aim to show their experiences and highlight the way they de-westernize different areas of life. Moreover, we acknowledge that latinidad is a social construct and that the latinx community is not a monolith and therefore hope to highlight this diversity.

Hyperallergic: Hyperallergic is a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today.

Creative Independent : Our goal is to educate, inspire, and grow the community of people who create or dream of creating. The Creative Independent is ad-free and backed by Kickstarter, PBC.

Sula Collective : Online magazine platform to amplify the voices of contemporary artists, writers and thinkers of color.

Packet Bi- weekly: Packet is collective and contribution-based with focus on process and experimentation in work. Biweekly issues collect work of the present rather than a theme. In this way Packet is a holding shape for immediacy, irreverence, and the ‘par-baked.’

Blue Stockings Magazine : is an intersectional*, anti-oppressive publication.

The Baffler: The Baffler is America’s leading voice of interesting and unexpected left-wing political criticism, cultural analysis, short stories, poems and art.

This media google doc

AND OF COURSE, HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

TWEETS: Strike @VICE 4 it’s ties 2 Fox News, Disney, Coca Cola, + private prisons all of which exacerbate the very issues Vice “independently” reports on! #mediaiscomplicit

Strike VICE News and all other media complicit in white supremacy. #strikevice #getartistspaid

Don’t click, like or read anything from @Vice. Your clicks = $$$$

Follow: @getartistspaid for updates!!

and SIGN THE PETITION!

WRITTEN BY GET ARTISTS PAID

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