Home US Vice Media Lays Off Staff Members At Vice, Refinery29 In Pivot To ‘Visual Storytelling’
US - August 26, 2021

Vice Media Lays Off Staff Members At Vice, Refinery29 In Pivot To ‘Visual Storytelling’

Just 15 months after Vice Media Group let go of 155 employees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company undertook another round of layoffs Thursday.

Vice Media Chief Digital Officer Cory Haik sent a midday email to staff on Thursday. The email, obtained by HuffPost, has the subject line “Our continued Global alignment and growth.”

The email doesn’t mention staff cuts until more than a dozen paragraphs in, describing the layoffs as a result of the company’s “continued global alignment.”

“We’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to some of our friends and colleagues today,” Haik’s email reads. “We wish them well and thank them for their dedicated service over the years.”

Included in the layoffs were digital managing editor Meredith Balkus, Life editorial director Casey Johnston, features editor Kate Dries and writers Josh Terry and Jelisa Castrodale on the Vice side. Senior news editor Leora Yashari of Refinery29, which is owned by VMG, was also included in the layoffs. Each of them shared the news of their job loss on Twitter.

A source familiar with Vice Media Group happenings told HuffPost that the layoffs affected less than 1% of the company’s global work force, that they were only from Vice digital and Refinery29, and that fewer than 20 people were part of the cuts.

The source also emphasized that VMG is not cutting anyone from the Vice News digital team, and that news is still a priority there.

A July item in The New York Times said that Vice Media would be “putting a greater emphasis on videos and other forms of visual storytelling,” and that it had recently launched a new video series, “Sex Re-education,” on Refinery29.

A Vice Media spokesperson said they’d be reducing “the number of old-fashioned text articles on Vice.com, Refinery29 and another Vice-owned site, i-D, by 40 to 50 percent,” according to the Times.

Haik told the Times that “you can’t be a youth media company if you’re not focused on where the youth are consuming media.”

“And more and more, that’s off-platform, that’s built-for-mobile,” she said. 

The company also said it would be hiring more producers as part of its investment in visual storytelling.

Vice Media Group laid off 155 employees in May 2020, accounting for more than 5% of its world headcount. About a third of those let go were U.S. employees, according to Variety, while the rest were international staff.

The organization cited revenue declines stemming from the coronavirus pandemic as its impetus for the layoffs. Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc reportedly wrote in an internal memo at the time: “While losing even one job feels like too many, these decisions ultimately rest with me and I assure you that we went to great lengths to preserve jobs.”

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