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Shitty Journalism Swirls the Drain Even Faster as Buzzfeed and Vice Announce Massive Layoffs. Let's Celebrate With Their Worst Articles Ever.

Bennett Raglin. Getty Images.

These are the worst of times for journos, both the capital-J and lower case j varieties. 

The business model of sharing information continues to seismically shift with an ever-increasing rate of acceleration. And it's become virtually impossible for even the savviest management teams at the biggest legacy news outlets to keep up. Public trust in them is at an all time low. Opinion polls show that audiences don't believe they're being informed in any sort of objective way. Partisan politics and agendas seem to be the rule, not the exception. And everywhere you look, from newspapers to cable news to internet sites to even once respected brands like Sports Illustrated are either seeing huge cutbacks or even shutting down operations altogether. All this despite the fact 2024 is shaping up to be one of the most historic years for news and information in our lifetimes. 

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And that seems to go double for the outlets that just a few years ago were supposed to rewriting the way journo-ing is done:

Yes, these are sad days indeed when investors would rather see you rely on Protocol Droids to write your content than actual human beings with Journalism degrees they went into six figures of student loan debt to pay for. 

But for Buzzfeed and Vice, that's not the half of it:

CNN - The digital media revolution is over.    

 Its two leaders, Vice Media and BuzzFeed , are in a frenetic retreat, surrendering much of their online empires as they try to protect what remains of their core assets. Having once threatened to upend the entire industry and usher in a new era of news distribution and monetization, the former digital media darlings are now merely attempting to survive in any form they can.    

As they retreat, their large newsrooms once filled with rows of journalists are now shutting off the lights and closing their doors. BuzzFeed, already slimmed down after several waves of layoffs, announced this week that it will slash another 16% of its staff as it undergoes “planned strategic restructuring” to reduce costs. And Vice Media said Thursday that it will lay off hundreds of staffers as it ceases publishing on its own website and pivots into a business that resembles a studio.    

“It’s devastating to have a group of reporters who have made such a significant impact in the world have their jobs end in this way,” one senior Vice Media staffer told me about the ugly state of affairs. …

Both Vice Media and BuzzFeed have been avatars for the entire industry, having served as the two highest-profile pioneers that paved the (short) road for other digital-first upstarts. At one point, the outlets inspired fear in their legacy media competitors, with each valued at billions of dollars while making splashy hires and threatening further disruption.    

Now they’re struggling to keep their head above water.    

The demise of Vice Media as we know it is a particularly hard pill to swallow. … [T]he mood inside Vice Media was grim.    

Staffers struggled to work amid rumors circulating about the outlet’s fate, with one staffer telling me that it was like watching “the violinists playing aboard the sinking Titanic.”

That IS a hard pill to swallow indeed. Those fresh, unique, original metaphors with violinists playing while the Titanic sinks are going to be missed. It's enough to make you wonder what Vice Media staffers would come up with if only a few minor, ineffective changes were being made. Would they burn the mental calories to come up with something new, or go straight to the deckchairs? I think I can make an educated guess. And AI would come up with the same cliche, only faster and cheaper.

Though I don't want to come across as being happy about this. I make it my policy to never invite the bad karma of celebrating someone's career demise unless they've directly tried to put my employer out of business. And it would take a far more cynical man than me to remember how when blue collar jobs were being shut down a few years back, the common refrain in corporate media was that "they should learn to code." No, I am saddened by this, not gladdened. After all, it's not like these companies are Deadspin.

Because if Buzzfeed and Vice go under, where are we going to go for our worthless clickbait links? Our listicles that you regret ever accidentally clicking? Facebook quizzes your mom does that probably trick her into revealing her passwords. The sensational headlines in search of actual content to make them worth reading? Are we supposed to just go on, living our lives without the worst content on the internet? I mean, imagine facing a day without some of these gems. The worst of the worst, in no particular order. Feel free not to click any of these links and you can thank me at the end:

From Buzzfeed:

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And Vice:

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How these brands of white hot, can't-miss, must-read content is failing to connect in the marketplace of ideas is an absolute mystery. It's almost as if Americans have gotten sick and tired of clicking on humorless garbage with no redeeming value and utterly lacking in a compelling reason to exist. Go figure.

As long as we're reading Vice staffers spewing lazy, obvious cliches, let's add another. It's long been said that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. And that was always confirmably true. At least until the past few months. Now it's starting to look abundantly clear that the internet is starting to live up to its original promise as a true meritocracy. Where good content will always find and audience and hacky trash will die a horrible death sooner or later. And Buzzfeed and Vice have just done their part to prove that's true by becoming yet two more sites destined for the ash heap of history while Barstool continues to grow exponentially. Brick by brick.

Giphy Images.