VICE Media seems to be getting more journalistically legit, particularly with its international coverage, but CEO Shane Smith said today that he doesn’t consider himself a journalist, and doesn’t want to be a journalist.
“I think if you look at the failure of journalism in the modern age, then I don’t want to be called a journalist,” Smith said today while on-stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt New York conference.
As an example, he pointed to the failure of the mainstream media more than a decade ago to aggressively question the Bush administration’s claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And he went on to paint VICE’s success as a result of the traditional journalism’s shortcomings.
Smith recalled that when VICE started to move into video, everyone believed that young people didn’t care about news, and that they would only be interest in short, fun, “snackable” videos.
“What we found was that Generation Y is absolutely consumed with news,” Smith said. “They love news, it’s one of their biggest passion points. The problem is they’ve been disenfranchised by traditional media outlets and because of that — look, if the world was going along tickety boo and the Fourth Estate was doing its job, VICE would not be purveying news.”
Asked what makes for a VICE story, Smith replied that the main thing is that it must be interesting: “It should punch you in the face.”
Looking ahead, he said the company will continue to pursue digital and traditional media channels, with the goal of becoming completely “platform agnostic.” VICE is currently doing 160 or 170 million views each month, but Smith said he wants to reach “Machinima numbers, but with news.”
“We want to be doing a billion, 2 billion, 3 billion video views a month, but with news,” Smith concluded. “And then, like I say, we won’t be the next CNN or ESPN or MTV, we’ll be 10 times that size. And I think that’s what we’re going to do in the next few years.”