Funny expose of what a debacle Vice was in its final years

Elizabeth Lopatto reports that Vice, which finally ceased publication last month and laid everyone off, was a cash-burning catastrophe in its final years. Higher-ups would blow thousands on flights while freelancers got stiffed. Executives robbed it blind. It was so badly-run that just talking about it leads to "conspiracy theories in attempts to explain the vacuum of competent leadership." And yet there was so much fantastic work being done…

while Vice execs were spending opulently in some areas, the newsroom struggled to pay its bills. A person familiar with the company's finances claimed that Vice delayed paying vendors until services would be shut off, at which point the company would realize they were necessary and try to figure out how to pay the bills. Among the services shut off on multiple occasions in the run-up to the bankruptcy were Getty and Pacer, two accounts crucial to any newsroom. It was particularly difficult for freelancers to get paid

The people left picking at the corpse: corporate nitwits, flacks and barely-literate lawyers.

Vice's lack of understanding of how newsrooms work even extended to this story. In response to an email to current Vice CEO Bruce Dixon for comment on this piece, I received correspondence from David Shane at Resolution Communications, a crisis PR firm, who told me he was working with Fortress and Vice. When I sent him a request for comment on this story, he replied with a list of his own questions, most of which felt like an attempt to identify my sources.

I then received emailed responses to my inquiries from Bergeson LLP, a law firm that has represented the Church of Scientology and which describes its media practice as influencing "potentially damaging media reports" and "dealing with what is now known as 'fake news.'" Throughout the reporting process, I would email questions to Shane and receive responses from Bergeson LLP — but the firm asked that Vice's responses be attributed to Sorzano, Vice's director of global communications, a person with whom I never spoke directly.

Bergeson LLP's emails were headlined "Not for publication," even though I had not consented to any communication being off the record, per The Verge's very public background policy. The firm also questioned the use of anonymous sources, saying, "It is troubling that the false attribution [sic] — indeed every allegation put to Vice by The Verge — comes from anonymous sources, whom The Verges's [sic] refuses to name despite Vice's requests."

TL;DR: it's all Shane Smith's fault.

Transparent Vice [The Verge]