I remember few things from my time spent pursuing my undergraduate education and even fewer people (somewhere, a couple who got their dog killed is cursing my name) but one I always venerated was VICE.
Yes, from 2011-15 this group could do no wrong in my eyes. What began as an underground magazine in Montreal morphed into a globetrotting multimedia empire. There were shows with edgy reporting, colorful articles and a prominent white Canadian with a beard and iffy physique who I could look to as a model and influence on my own reporting future and desired escape from the troubled childhood I never deserved.
I felt I could get there with time. My recent successes made me feel like I was on the path but, as recent events have shown, power corrupts and wealth can lead people who used to have good intentions to do bad things.
As reported recently by The Guardian, this outlet which once had the eyeballs of all youth upon them secretly helped organize a music event in Saudi Arabia in 2020 even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After his death the group had announced it was pausing all work in the kingdom the U.S. and Canada give a pass to, but, as in the case of when Canada sold the same bunch weapons, nothing really matters more than money.
“Although the Azimuth music festival received little publicity in western media when it took place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is believed to have been highly lucrative for VICE,” the report from Jim Waterson on the coverup of the brand’s involvement reads. “Staff at the company estimate the total budget was $20 (£15) million.”
This is a pretty nice bit of cash. The article also notes staff were vehemently opposed to the move, those involved with the show were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and VICE’s name never ran on marketing material.
What a classy way to show you are proud of what you have done and who you are associating with.
To be fair, a spokesperson for the company did note their editorial team remains independent and their business side expanded into the region like many others have. Understandable when you want to make money, but, as I said about my former province of Alberta doing a deal with the same nation, a creep with a check is still awful.
Would they go running to Kim Jong-un if he had a dollar and a dog leash and collar?
Would they embrace Vladimir Putin in order to boost subscriber growth in the next fiscal year?
When you are dealing with bad actors like this, one can never know. It is impossible to avoid such misconduct (you would lead a solitary life if you tried), but I can be better by choosing to never work there if the chance arises. To Hell with VICE, to Hell with their executives and to Hell with anyone who loves murderer money.
Though they may not have killed anyone, they are not much better in my eyes.
Top Image: VICE co-founder Shane Smith speaks at an event in 2017. Wikimedia Commons