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...because what started as a Canadian government funded 90’s alt magazine that navigated the dot-com bust, the slow death of print journalism and overall media turmoil has become THE brand name for counterculture news in the world. Vice spreads its content across multiple platforms and partnerships, from web journalism and online video to print publications and its HBO series. In the same way that Playboy actually used to have good articles, Vice uses sex and NSFW content as a lure for people to read or watch the serious journalism it produces as well.


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Like nearly every runaway success, Vice was certainly in the right place at the right time. Along with its adopted headquarters city of Brooklyn, Vice rode the wave of hipster culture from outsider status in the early 2000’s to a more mainstream, commercially viable home today. But the real reason Vice isn’t just a defunct Montreal magazine is the company’s willingness to adapt to changing times. It was among the first media publications to embrace digital publication for its stories as a way to support its print business, sticking with this strategy even after the dot-com industry crashed. Vice also turned to streaming video for news stories before pretty much anyone else had figured out a good business model. As content shifts towards mobile devices and who-knows-what next major innovation, the company continues to use technology to its advantage.

Vice understands that contemporary audiences like to have options. That’s why Vice gives its fans many different ways to access its content. The magazine offers both a website and print edition, with videos available through the company’s site, a YouTube channel and also the HBO series. Vice has also partnered with established media companies like Viacom and HBO to help produce and distribute its content. There’s also a Vice app for mobile, and the company purchased the tech agency Carrot Creative to expand its media presence in this emerging arena. On top of all this, Vice also sponsors live events and promotions. All this has turned Vice into a veritable media empire. It’s also allowed the company to experiment with different advertising and revenue models across its platforms.

Sex is apparently a pretty big part of internet culture – yes, we’re as surprised as anyone by this fact! Vice has been hip to it for a while though, producing sexualized and steamy content in the form of articles, personal essays, photographs and videos. While this may fit into the company’s mission statement and brand of breaking down taboo subjects, it also has the not-so-hidden advantage of catching people’s attention. Buzzfeed has its listicles and cute kittens; Vice has Terry Richardson. However, Vice balances its pornographic leanings out through its more respectable news content, often covering crime and war stories in poverty-stricken places that slip through the mainstream media’s filter. Mary Poppins taught us that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. This probably isn’t what she had in mind, but it definitely works for Vice.


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