Vice accused of bowing to big corporations, sacrificing journalism for business

Founder, CEO VICE Shane Smith (Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images for The Wrap / AFP)

A former associate editor for Vice is making waves after releasing internal emails that he says suggests that “there’s no wall between editorial and marketing” at the media company.

On Wednesday this week, Los Angeles-based writer Charles Davis posted a series of screenshots on Twitter that he claims have come from emails sent by management at Vice, where he worked from December 2012 until last month, according to his resume.

In one apparent exchange, Davis shows an email in which he’s reminded that “basically any mention of a large entity that [Vice] might be marking some kind of business deal with…should get run up the flagpole” before being published.

According to Gawker, which published a number of Davis’ tweets on Thursday, the complaints from Vice’s higher ups concerned a September 12 article on the National Football League’s recent mishaps written by a freelancer.

“The NFL is not a Vice client, but the company’s advertising higher-ups evidently weren’t happy with the post,” Gawker reported after reviewing the Davis tweets.

“Just want to add to this: In my experience, every single time — every single time — I had a story ‘run up the flagpole’ it was killed,” Davis tweeted.

Andy Crush, a writer at Gawker, opined that the emails show Vice doesn’t operate like most media organizations, but rather like a “marketing shop first, editorial brand second.” However, his article comes on the heels of evidence surfacing of a larger online feud between both New York-based media companies: in May, the two outlets went back and forth after Gawker accused Vice of underpaying its staffers.

“Salaries at Vice Media and the company’s pay rate for contract work were described to us as ‘a pittance,’ ‘a fucking joke,’ and ‘so low I couldn’t even consider it, it was offensive,’” Gawker quoted one anonymous former Vice worker.

“Fuck you and fuck your garbage click-bait journalism,” Vice responded, adding that Gawker is nothing more than a “gossip site that openly traffics in rumor, innuendo and in many cases straight-up bullshit”and that salaries Vice offers are “competitive with comparable emerging media companies in the digital space.”

On Thursday, Gawker ran Cush’s article with the title “Emails: Vice Requires Writers to Get Approval to Write About Brands.” Vice told Gawker for their report that Davis was fired from the company after two months and, according to a source cited in Thursday’s article, possibly after falling asleep in a meeting.

Davis did not immediately return RT’s request for comment.

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.