The Most Controversial News Media Company Files For Bankruptcy

Vice Media has filed for bankruptcy.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

Vice Media

How the mighty have fallen. Vice Media, once valued at almost $6 billion, filed for bankruptcy Monday after accruing close to over $500 million in debts to various creditors. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Vice news organization best known for its coverage of overseas conflicts, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, decided to go the bankruptcy route in order to make it easier to sell the company.

A group that consists of Soros Fund Management, Monroe Capital, and Fortress Credit Corp.—which just happens to be the lender Vice owes the most money to, $475 million—is attempting to purchase Vice Media for $225 million. This business consortium has also agreed to pick up the tab for all of Vice’s debts and is expected to finalize the sale within the next two or three months.

Vice Media

Vice has long had a strong presence online, but like fellow digital media companies BuzzFeed and Vox Media, Vice Media has struggled in recent years to make money amidst a shakey economy and the constant evolution of online advertising. Filing for Chapter 11 is no doubt a huge hit to Vice Media’s ego, given that the brand was once an in-demand media presence boasting investments from old-school media juggernauts like Disney and Fox Corp. Vice’s fall from grace, however, was anything but sudden.

In 2016 the Brooklyn-based media brand hired controversial figure Josh Tyrangiel to run Vice News and Vice on HBO. The ruthless exec—the word “tyrant” is practically in his name—promptly laid off much of the news staff at Vice Media and prompted Vice co-founder Shane Smith to call him a “murderer.” The next year Vice faced several #MeToo scandals that led some top executives to quit outright, further tarnishing the media company’s public image.

Bankruptcy is just one more balled-up piece of old newspaper to add to the dumpster fire that has been Vice Media in 2023. CEO Nancy Dubuc left the news organization in February, with Vice’s global president of news and entertainment, Jesse Angelo, following suit the very next month. The company’s run of misfortune continued in April when Vice had to shut down its flagship TV news series Vice News Tonight and lay off more than 100 staff members.

Vice Media continued to roll nothing but Nat 1’s this month when it was forced to lay off several more staff members from the Vice World News division, resulting in the closing of Vice’s APAC offices. It remains to be seen whether the sale of Vice will reinvigorate the brand or see it continue to slide further down into the Swamps of Sadness (RIP Artax).

Vice still has close to 17 million subscribers on YouTube, heavily indicating that there’s still an audience for the brand’s unique style of news content. The problem for Vice Media, however, is how to translate their sizable following into a sizable profit. In an age where most people use ad-blockers and VPNs, tons of views don’t always translate into tons of bucks.

If all else fails, maybe Vice can start a show on Twitter. Who knows? It worked for Tucker Carlson.