media interview

Vice Chief on Youth, Drugs and Islamic State

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Since it was founded in Montreal in 1994 as an independent magazine, Vice has grown into an empire. Founder Shane Smith says Vice has reinvented media for a younger generation, and that, unlike many other media outlets, he is making journalism profitable.
  • Facts


    • With media giants like 21st Century Fox and, most recently, Disney, funding Vice to the tune of $700 million over the past three years, the company now has an estimated value of over $4 billion.
    • After running a Vice news show on U.S. channel HBO for two years, Vice recently launched its own television channel. Called “Viceland,” it is planned to eventually be available in 44 countries, thanks to new content and distribution deals signed earlier this year.
    • Vice founder Shane Smith is a controversial figure. He is regularly critical of mainstream media for a lack of innovation and is seen as a champion for millennial opinions. But at the same time, the ethics of his business model and management practices have come under scrutiny.
  • Audio


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Center For Communication 2015 Annual Award Luncheon Honoring Shane Smith Of VICE
Vice's chief editor Shane Smith is fascinated by politics. Source: DPA/Picture Alliance

Vice is a media group known for its flashy, provocative multimedia coverage of news and is highly popular among young people.

Starting out as a skateboard mag, it was founded in 1994 through a welfare pay program. Vice now encompasses numerous specialist online platforms and a TV channel, and is currently valued at more than $4 billion. It has drawn funding from high-profile donors such as Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, A&E and Technology Crossover Ventures and Disney.

Observers say Vice’s main feat is less its bold coverage than its transition from a playful alternative site to a cultural heavyweight that’s moving in on the mainstream.

The group’s chief executive Shane Smith talked to Die Zeit, a sister publication of Handelsblatt, about why he would like to meet the IS caliphate, competitors like the New York Times and his news show that focuses solely on marijuana.


DIE ZEIT: You are 46 years old, married with two children, but with your media company, Vice, you are the voice of  youth. How is that possible?

Shane Smith: I founded Vice magazine in Canada in 1994. But then we entered the digital world, that is where Generation Y lives – born in the ’80s and ’90s – and we became a brand for Generation Y. It’s not me who attracts the young people. It is our writers and film makers, who are a lot younger than me. They are working on topics that interest them. That’s it.

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