Photo: Stephanie Keith (Getty)

The first quarter of 2019 has been utterly brutal for the digital media industry. Corporate owners have crunched whatever financial and readership numbers they’re using to decide whether or not journalists keep their jobs this year and found them lacking, with thousands of employees losing their jobs at BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Gannett newspapers across the country and around the world.

It’s been a nightmare. And now it has come to Vice.

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According to the Hollywood Reporter on Friday, Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc’s “strategic plan to tighten spending and achieve profitability” will include laying off 10 percent of the organization’s staff, a move that she said will affect all departments within the organization and start today.

THR reported, citing a company spokeswoman, that that means a loss of roughly 250 jobs from the company’s 2,500-member staff. In an internal email that opened with several laudatory paragraphs about Vice’s recent accomplishments—its strong showing at Sundance and the success of its Netflix documentary about the botched Fyre Festival among them—Dubuc announced the layoffs.

Per the email obtained by Splinter (read the full text of the message at the bottom of this story), Dubuc wrote:

Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks. We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future. To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.

[...]

This shift centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap. It touches everyone at VICE— from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact. While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly. We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way.

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Reorganization is a great word. So many uses. In this case, it means that the money-fuckers in charge of Vice have decided that a lot of jobs in the company are redundant, and investors are putting enough pressure on them that they need to wipe them all out as quickly as possible, rather than letting attrition and natural turnover whittle down numbers. They apparently did not share much of this thinking with their employees beforehand:

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This trend of misery is far from exclusive to Vice. In November, money-fucker in chief Chris Altchek laid off his entire staff ahead of a sale to Bryan Goldberg. Most recently, money-fucker Jonah Peretti entertained the idea of mollifying his remaining staff with therapy dogs after BuzzFeed gutted its extremely competent news division, creative teams, and shuttered multiple international bureaus.

Per Dubuc’s email, the layoffs will begin today in the U.S., UK and Mexico, and some expansions will be coming to certain departments.

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Vice is represented by the Writers Guild of America, East (as is Splinter), and just last month, the company ratified four new union contracts. THR reported that laid-off employees will get 10 weeks of severance and medical benefits and the company will pay out employee PTO.

Update, 12:10 p.m.: A source at Vice confirmed reports that Vice’s Friday night flagship show on HBO has not been renewed, but that the nightly Vice News Tonight show will continue running. Some of the Friday night show’s staff will be folded into Vice News Tonight or other documentary projects in the organization.

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The source added that ViceNews.com’s digital reporting side would be expanding in the reorganization. It’s still unclear how Vice’s larger umbrella of sites—such as Motherboard, Noisey, Broadly, and others—will be affected.

Update, 12:47 p.m. ET: Josh Cogswell, president of Vice’s digital division, sent his own email to digital staffers. The email strikes some of the same laudatory notes as Dubuc’s but notes that the layoffs will impact his team, saying that the company is “exploring the right way to further strengthen and support our VICE coverage under a new unified brand architecture.”

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From the email:

As you read in Nancy’s note today, the company is making changes to structures around the world and some of our colleagues who have contributed great things to our team are departing. This is undoubtedly a tough day and I know you join me today in celebrating their work and thanking them.

...

…we are now exploring the right way to further strengthen and support our VICE coverage under a new unified brand architecture. Over the next many weeks, we will be sharing more details on how our site UX, category coverage and brands will develop - bringing all of our passion points under our core expression: news, culture, opinion, food, music, gaming, money, sports, health... any topics we know younger generations seek and where we can set new standards across editorial, video and multiplatform. We will invest and staff around this.

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Update, 4:50 p.m.: The Vice layoffs have hit several branches of Vice’s editorial wing, including Vice News Tonight, Motherboard, Noisey, Vice Sports, and the Creators Project. Vice has reportedly been calling workers individually instead of doing collective layoffs, meaning the process has dragged on for hours.

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Dubuc’s full email to staff:

Dear VICE,

We’ve all been working hard over the past several months to ensure that VICE the brand, the community, and the cultural force continues to grow to achieve our creative and business goals and we are already seeing progress.

This past weekend, VICE Studios’ film The Report made headlines with one of the largest sales in Sundance history, and our must-watch documentary Fyre on Netflix continues to garner rave reviews and attention. The launch of VICE Live later this month will bring together our vision of One VICE, creatively capitalizing on the incredible multiplatform value we can unlock for audiences and advertisers. We are having partnership conversations around digital extensions of Live with several social platforms. This is on top of our already impressive momentum, ending the year with double-digit traffic increases in views, watch time and subscribers across the digital business.

Virtue is seen as a go-to shop for brand strategy and creative excellence among the largest of blue chip brands, having attracted 20 major new clients in 2018. And our News team continues their run, with more Emmy nominations and wins this year than any other nightly show as well as a stellar delivery of the El Chapo trial on its Spotify podcast.

Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks. We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future. To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.

In this strategic restructure, some departments will get smaller while others will expand. Rather than organize VICE by country, we are creating a new operating structure around global lines of business—Studios, News, Digital, TV and Virtue. Support functions such as Sales, Legal, Communications, Marketing, IT, HR, Business Development and Brand Strategy will report into Brooklyn, or a designated central hub.

This shift centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap. It touches everyone at VICE— from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact. While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly. We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way.

Our leadership and HR business partners will meet with individuals affected by this reorganization today in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico. Over the coming weeks, we will be finalizing plans with other regions following local regulatory policies. There are a significant number of open positions coming online to help us expand where needed and we encourage you to discuss those with your HR business partner. Some areas of expected growth include Sales, Studios, VICE News digital and Virtue in many markets.

We are fortunate that VICE’s early diversification has made us more resilient to a shifting industry. VICE isn’t a logo—it’s people. Everyone who walks through our doors gives a part of themselves to do something different. You make sure we don’t conform. You bring your ideas and reckon with the weird and often messed up world around us. You dare.

Saying thank you can never express the depths of gratitude I have for the contributions you have made. Change is always hard, but this is VICE and I’m confident that we will all come together to make this a transition bound by respect, support and compassion.

Thank you,

Nancy

This story is developing and will be updated.