Rumors have been circulating for months that cable giant Time Warner was in talks to buy the upstart digital firm Vice Media. The deal would have given Vice control of Time Warner’s cable news channel HLN, bringing Vice’s unique brand of news reporting to television. According to a report in the Times, the deal fell apart after the two sides were unable to agree on a value for the company.
Vice Media began life as a magazine way back in 1994 when magazines were still a thing. The company was one of the first to adapt to the internet, launching a website, Viceland.com in 1996. That website would ultimately give rise to the Vice of today, a multi-platform news and media company with a particular taste for irreverent storytelling and envelope pushing. Vice’s aggressive reporting style and lack of respect for traditional boundaries has earned it both praise and scorn from journalism critics.
Vice has been lauded for its work reporting live from ignored global crisis zones, and its bold reporting from within typically off-limits areas like North Korea. However Vice reporters have also been criticized for their willingness to influence or even interfere directly in events in order to create a better story. A Vice interview with fugitive software-millionaire-turned-murder-suspect John McAfee ultimately lead to McAfee’s capture after geo-tagged pictures from the interview revealed his location to authorities. The story was praised for its boldness, but also plagued by rumors that Vice had intentionally outted McAfee’s location to gin up interest in the piece.
Even with the Time Warner deal axed, interest in Vice is at an all time high. The company’s YouTube channel has been featured in the video giant’s second round of print and television ads, and has been widely cited as a credible alternative to mainstream television news outlets. Vice has already produced limited television series for MTV and HBO with the promise of more to come. The company also doesn’t lack for funding. Vice received a $70 million cash infusion from conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch last year and with its increasing mainstream popularity, other investors won’t be far behind.