Vice Media laid off several members of its editorial staff today.
The axed writers and editors include: Casey Johnston, former Life Editorial Director; Meredith Balkus, Digital Managing Editor; Josh Terry, a music and culture writer; and Jelisa Castrodale, a journalist who also writes for Food and Wine.
In a statement on Twitter, posted after this piece was first published, the Vice Union announced that 17 members had been laid off from both Vice and its affiliate, Refinery29. So far most seem to come from within its digital content division. Vice Media did not immediately respond to comment.
“The company’s only acknowledgement of these layoffs came in the third-to-last paragraph of an 1,100-word email from the company’s Chief Digital Officer,” the union’s statement read, “announcing managerial promotions, a “global alignment,” and the achievement in of arbitrary social media metrics.”
In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was considering going public by way of a SPAC deal — the recently trendy financial vehicle that allows corporations to IPO by merging with a blank check firm known as a “Special Purpose Acquisition Company.” As a result, Vice told the New York Times last month that it was “putting a greater emphasis on videos and other forms of visual storytelling:”
Van Scott, a Vice Media spokesman, said the company will reduce the number of old-fashioned text articles on Vice.com, Refinery29 and another Vice-owned site, i-D, by 40 to 50 percent.
The number of visual stories, including videos suited to mobile-friendly formats like Instagram’s Stories feature, is likely to increase by the same amount, Mr. Scott said.
The news of the layoffs comes just after voting began in elections for the Writers Guild of America East, where Vice employees are members.
Last year, Vice Media laid off 155 people — or five percent of its workforce — due to financial concerns brought on by the pandemic. Roughly 100 of these cuts came from their international staff; 55 workers were domestic.
If any former or current Vice employees want to talk about the layoffs, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.