What do journalists think of Vice Media

Resignations from Buzzfeed, Vice and Co: Boom. Noise. Schepper

Once celebrated online media quickly laid off 1,300 people. At “Vice” in Germany they now want to set up a works council.

Once celebrated - and now? The expansion dreams of various online media are shattered Photo: unsplash / Chuttersnap

BERLINtaz | In the Berlin editorial office of Vice Are they currently dealing with topics that have hitherto been far removed from them: establishing contact with the trade union, reading the Works Constitution Act, electing a works council. They do this because they fear for their jobs. Last Monday, the parent company in the US, Vice Media, announced that it would cut 250 jobs - a tenth of the global workforce. It mainly hits offices in the US, Mexico and the UK. What will happen to the 130 employees in Germany is unclear. Nobody knows whether and how many positions will be deleted here. Whether maybe even entire verticals will be closed, i.e. the Vice- Offshoots, such as the music department Noisy, or the food desk Munchiesnobody knows either.

Opposite the taz wanted to ViceSpokesman did not comment on the terminations. The company is also reluctant to deal with the workforce. The announcement that the contract would be canceled came by email. There hasn't been much more information since then.

Within the past two weeks, Vice Media also did Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post Layoffs announced - Buzzfeed laid off around 250 employees, Verizon Media, owner of the Huffington Post, 800. The once celebrated online media cut 1,300 jobs in one fell swoop. The Huffington Post closes its Germany office, which is owned by Buzzfeed with its eight employees is spared for now.

Job cuts are not uncommon in journalism. Between 2008 and 2017, almost a quarter of journalists in the US newsrooms lost their jobs. The special thing now is which editorial offices are affected: Media that publish almost exclusively on the Internet - on their websites, in social media, in video and audio formats. Buzzfeed, Vice and Huffington Post are three of the biggest players in the digital media business. They made journalism web compatible by connecting it to entertainment and tailoring it to social media. And now?

Recipe for success: reach

Vice started in 1994 as a printed lifestyle magazine and established a kind of borderline journalism, reporting mainly on drugs, parties, sex and the Internet. In 2013 Rupert Murdoch invested 70 million in the company via 21st Century Fox. Meanwhile operates Vice with Viceland even own television stations. The Huffington Post started as an online magazine in 2005. HuffPo-Co-founder Jonah Peretti moved on and founded in 2006 Buzzfeed.

Buzzfeed With its mixture of news and easily digestible content, it was long considered a bad journalistic joke. But then it turned into the supposed success concept for profitable news on the Internet. Promised in the early 2010s Buzzfeed one thing above all: reach, via social networks, which have developed into the primary news channel for so-called millennials. Recorded 150 million visits Buzzfeed monthly in 2014. For comparison: The New York Times spoke of 30 million visits to the website at the time. Investors saw this as the key to attracting a younger advertising audience.

The 2010s start out as a frenzy. Then the first doubts arise

Investment firms pumped hundreds of millions of venture capital into the start-up. Investors hoped to profit from viral marketing and native advertising - advertising that looks like editorial content. The value of Buzzfeed was estimated at $ 1.5 billion in 2015.

The big rush followed: offices worldwide, rapidly growing teams. The editorial offices lured with paradisiacal working conditions: Bei Buzzfeed they bought oysters and mussels for lunch. Vice held decadent parties for the staff who often scrub overtime in the offices. Work hard, play hard. In connection with allegations of sexual harassment in autumn 2017, the Viceto have been a “boys club” in the beginning. This mentality also dominated the other digital media. They too came about because a couple of young people crouched together and started a business. Very few knew about business. No matter. Success proved them right. But then the first doubts arose. Buzzfeed about corrected its sales forecasts downwards from year to year. To date, investors have hardly seen any profits.

Problem: extremely dependent on Facebook

What Buzzfeed, Vice and Co have done wrong? There are different answers to this. Perhaps they have promised too much, overestimated their possibilities. Perhaps it was wrong to assume constant growth in a market that continues to fragment.

In addition Buzzfeed, Vice, HuffPo and the other so-called online natives are dependent on the large platform operators Facebook and Google. Hardly anyone types www.vice.com into his browser. The audience comes through social media: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook. As soon as their operators change their algorithms or issue incorrect numbers, this becomes an existential problem.

From 2015, for example, there was a video hype in the industry. Facebook had claimed that ads sell better next to video than next to text. So the editorial team moved text staff away to produce more videos. At the end of 2016 it came out: Facebook's video numbers were inflated. At the beginning of 2018, the network then changed its algorithm and placed the status reports from friends higher than those from the newsrooms. The number of visits to Vice and Buzzfeed broke in radically.

While the promising digital are laying off people, Facebook is doing fantastic. The company earned almost $ 17 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, pure profit: 6.9 billion. Despite all allegations of manipulation and fake news, Facebook is better off than ever.

Dare to be independent

The online natives have been trying to become more independent for a long time. Or at least strive for a better negotiating position. BuzzfeedChef Peretti proposed a merger with other online media in November. Recently cooperated Buzzfeed also with the company Group Nine, in which the German Springer group is also involved. The point is to develop measuring instruments to better assess website visits.

To this end, the editorial offices are trying to generate new income. That works at Buzzfeed for example with its food offshoot Tasty. Cooking videos are produced there in cooperation with Walmart. The recipes are published as a cookbook, which also makes money. Earned in 2017 Buzzfeed around a quarter of its sales with such concepts, outside of traditional advertising.

But even with a better negotiating position with Facebook and new sources of money, the basic problem remains: The prices for online advertising are falling steadily.

Just got Buzzfeed celebrated its biggest scoop. A reporter published the dossier of a former intelligence officer, which is supposed to prove that Donald Trump has ties to Russia.

Good staff

The German offshoots have also been producing quality for a long time. Buzzfeed Germany is headed by the former Corrective-Co-founder Daniel Drepper with an investigative claim. Head of the German-speaking Vice is the earlier one star-Journalist Laura Himmelreich. As far as the staff is concerned, nothing separates these media from the established editorial offices.

In the Berlin office of Vice The invitation has been hanging since Friday morning: The workforce wants to set up a works council together with Verdi. 20 of the 130 employees, including three managers, signed. Their role model is the "Vice Union" of the US workforce. The management of the German-speaking Vice states that she respects the establishment of the works council and that she is looking forward to productive cooperation.

In the USA, where labor law is more lax, the sacked colleagues have also started to organize - albeit in a different way BuzzfeedEmployees have set up a website: “Hire a Buzzfeeder”, a job exchange where former buzzfeeders present themselves. 133 people advertise there.