Will selling to Murdoch ruin Vice's credibility?

Rupert Murdoch has nothing to lose here. Only time will tell whether the Vice brand is damaged by being connected to a reactionary network like Fox News

Related Topics

Given how hard News Corp is working to clean up its reputation after allegations of various forms of criminality, it seems a little reckless of Rupert Murdoch to be jumping into bed with a media company called Vice.

And for a youngish brand that has built its own name by combining street smarts with an ability to report serious global stories in a quirky and youth-friendly fashion, an alliance with the world’s most famous traditional media baron appears like marketing madness.

But £45m is no small amount of money to a business that started out as a publicly-funded community magazine in Montreal - and Vice Media has grown by striking up partnerships with bigger organisations, ranging from broadcaster HBO to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which is shown online by Vice and on television by Murdoch’s Fox network.

I imagine that Vice will be hoping that the publicity surrounding News Corp’s purchase of a 5 per cent shareholding will go unnoticed by most of its audience. Vice, which is predominantly a video brand these days but still produces its print magazine in 34 countries, still depends on its underground credibility even if it is now a large international player. The company is expanding into China, something that will also have impressed a Sinophile like Murdoch.

As for Rupert, he has nothing to lose here. The mogul first expressed interest in Vice Media on his Twitter account last October but denied a planned buy-up by saying – quite reasonably – that corporate backing was the “last thing they need”. But apparently the price was right for Vice. For News Corp, the outlay was mere pocket change for a business with annual revenues of $33bn – especially one that splashed $580m on MySpace way back in 2005.

I hope that the Vice chief executive Shane Smith, along with the Brits on his top team such as Tyneside-born president Andrew Creighton and its Global Editor Andy Capper, know what they’re doing. Vice has until now been a great success story and has shown the way in engaging in current affairs a generation that is supposedly less interested in the news.

Time will tell whether the Vice brand is damaged by being connected to a reactionary network like Fox News, or whether the business somehow benefits from access to the expertise and resources of the Murdoch empire.

Vice, which bought its vice.com domain name from a pornographer, has never sought the virginal reputation of a brand like Innocent – which presented itself as a clean and healthy alternative in the food and drinks market. But when I heard about Vice’s deal with Rupert Murdoch, it was the smoothie brand with the halo that instantly came to mind – and specifically when Innocent paired up with McDonald’s and Coca Cola.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

When a small amount of desk space means the world

Rebecca Armstrong
It’s all in the detail; Ed Miliband with ‘Britain Can Be Better’ (AFP/Getty)  

General Election 2015: Parties must remember the 50-plus vote

Stefano Hatfield
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own