Vice News Tonight; glimpsing the future of news?

Global news, analysis, and opinion on the absurdity of the modern condition.”

Sound like a news outlet that catches your attention?

It’s the tagline for VICE Media – and the company just might be showing us the future of news.

Vice presents the future of news

VICE Media started life in 1994 in Montreal – aimed at young people, it was an alternative magazine called Voice of Montreal. None of the three founders had a background in media – but they were brash, determined and eager to thumb their noses at all things traditional.

The mag became VICE in 1996 and soon broadened from digital to video – and to US and international markets. They have since expanded in several directions – an online television network, a record label and a news division among other things. VICE Media is now a multibillion dollar enterprise. Their aim continues to be: talk to millennials.

VICE News, the current affairs brand, appeared in 2013. It produces documentaries – often on under-reported or internationally-focussed stories – that appear on their website and YouTube channel.

In 2015 they launched a cable TV network, Viceland, featuring lifestyle-oriented programs targeting millennials.

Vice News Tonight launched about a year ago in Canada and airs on Viceland – which in Canada is owned by Rogers.

A statement form Vice promises news with “no ads, no anchors and no censors”. Aimed at the 18- to 34-year-old demo, this is news for people who aren’t waiting for the end of the day to get their news.

The program is a series of visuals, voice-overs and interviews to elaborate on headlines this group has probably already seen on Facebook or Twitter. Each runs three to six minutes.

Early reviews were mixed – the Hollywood Reporter said “it felt like a string of little amuse-bouches to whet appetites for full meals available online”.

In the New York Times: “If you like the Vice sensibility … you might enjoy the show’s capsule version of it. Just don’t expect the news to be new.”

All is not well in traditional network news-land. So moving away from the all-knowing anchor with the chirpy weatherperson sidekick, thinning the wall between news and advertising, using animated graphics to report the news – it’s all worth looking at.

These are early days. It’s going to be intriguing to watch them evolve.


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