Vice Media CEO Attacks Big Tech’s ‘Chokehold’ on Journalism

Masters of the Universe

Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc attacked the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe in a memo to all employees sent as the company lays off 155 staffers. Dubuc’s memo says that Big Tech’s “squeeze” is becoming a “Chokehold” on the new business, as platforms are “not just taking a larger slice of the pie, but almost the whole pie.”

As Vice Media slashes its newsroom staff, its chief executive officer is blaming Silicon Valley giants for destroying journalism, saying that big tech firms are strangling the news profession.

“The squeeze is becoming a chokehold. Platforms are not just taking a larger slice of the pie, but almost the whole pie,” Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc wrote in a blistering memo obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.

Vice Media said Friday that it is laying off 55 staffers in the U.S., plus about 100 staffers overseas in the coming weeks. The layoffs are part of a larger bloodbath to overtake the news industry in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Buzzfeed has announced the closure of its U.K. and Australia offices, while  Quartz announced layoffs earlier this week. Numerous local newspapers have cut staff, while some major outlets including the Los Angeles Times and Gannett-owned papers have enacted furloughs and pay cuts.

Vice’s announcement on Friday represents a major hit to the once invincible news brand that targeted millennials with a mix original video content, long-form reporting, and clickbait.

“We grew our digital business faster than anyone at a time when we believed that as more pies were baked, we’d keep getting a slice,” Vice CEO Dubuc wrote in her memo.

“Now, after many years of this, the squeeze is becoming a chokehold. Platforms are not just taking a larger slice of the pie, but almost the whole pie. And while the crescendo has been building for some time, now it is more clear than ever … 36,000+ lost jobs in journalism is enough to take your breath away.”

Dubuc didn’t name specific tech companies in her memo. But the news industry has long blamed Facebook and Google for its decline, saying that the platforms have soaked up advertising dollars while benefiting from original reporting done by others.

“It’s time we stand together as a media industry and address the serious issues that have slowly eroded the original promise of the Internet: a tool to bring society on more equal footing through knowledge and creativity unparalleled,” Dubuc wrote.

On Friday, Vice Media’s newsroom union blasted the company’s decision to lay off staffers.

“We understand that the entire news industry is hurting. We do not understand why Vice chose to lay off many of our colleagues in the middle of a global pandemic instead of exhausting all options to save these jobs,” the union said in a statement.

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