Vice Media Parts With 2 Top Editors, After Layoffs and Before an Expansion

There was a shake-up in the digital division of Vice Media on Tuesday.

Jonathan Smith, a Vice veteran who had been the editor in chief of Vice.com for the last three years, was let go, along with the site’s managing editor, Rachel Schallom. The company announced that Erika Allen, a Vice Magazine alumna who was most recently a senior editor at New York Magazine’s The Cut, had been named the site’s executive managing editor, and other editors took on expanded roles.

Katie Drummond, who was named Vice’s senior vice president for digital in March after a stint as deputy editor at Medium, said she had been attracted by the possibility for growth.

“The appeal to me is very clear,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “This is a brand that can be fearless, tell big stories, has a global reach, attracts emerging talent.”

The company is indeed expanding, having posted listings for roughly a dozen additional editorial jobs, including a features editorial director, an opinion editor and an “authoritarianism reporter.” Ms. Drummond added that the restructuring of Vice.com, with various editors heading up teams of reporters, meant there were no plans to name a new editor in chief of the site.

The changes are part of Vice Media’s effort to become profitable after a rocky period during which the company laid off 10 percent of its staff and placed several Vice sites under the Vice.com umbrella.

Vice Media also recently announced that it had raised $250 million in debt funding from investors including the billionaire financier George Soros. The Walt Disney Company, which invested more than $400 million in Vice Media for a quarter of the company, said in a securities filings this year that it doesn’t expect to get a return on that investment.

At one point, Vice Media was valued as much as $5.7 billion, and its chief executive, Nancy Dubuc, said late last year that it would be profitable by the next fiscal year, but its fortunes have fallen as internet giants continue to gobble up the bulk of online ad revenue.

Vice Media has also tried to improve its workplace culture since a New York Times investigation in December 2017 reported mistreatment of women at the company, with more than two dozen employees saying they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct there.

Vice has lately focused on its studios division, which produces video content for streaming sites and its own cable channel, Viceland. Vice News and HBO also produce a weekly show, “Vice News Tonight.”

Ms. Drummond said she saw the website having a symbiotic relationship with the other departments. She noted that Vice’s reporting on the Fyre Festival, the woebegone Caribbean mega-concert two years ago, helped the company produce a popular documentary, “Fyre,” that ran on Netflix.

“Everything complements everything,” Ms. Drummond said.


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