Vice Media is dead, long live…well, what’s left to take its place, exactly?

Last week, Vice Media announced a massive wave of layoffs and the end of Mismanagement and greed had already whittled down the once unstoppable media conglomerate into a bare-bones operation; this decision effectively killed whatever remained. Once valued at $5.7 billion, Vice declared bankruptcy last year and closed its headquarters at 289 Kent Avenue (only after rewarding its top brass with some pretty cushy bonuses).

Vice started as a Montreal-based punk magazine in the mid-nineties, eventually relocating to Williamsburg by the turn of the millennium. Skyrocketing past its scrappy origins, Vice quickly morphed into a global media brand, though it kept much of the gonzo journalism ethos. They came to symbolize a kind of brash, hipster intelligentsia that populated Williamsburg in the aughts, as well as the tendency for brands to capitalize on an area’s cool factor and, in the process, dilute its charm. Case in point — Vice pushed out beloved music venues Death by Audio and Glasslands to construct their Kent Avenue headquarters in 2015. In light of the recent (hopefully temporary!) Saint Vitus closure, the reminder of long-gone music venues stings even more acutely.

Vice headquarters in Williamsburg. Image via Google.

The life and death cycle of what is cool and what is commercial is a quintessentially Williamsburg tale, but the end of Vice also serves as an indictment on the current state of journalism. Dozens of media publications, like BuzzFeed News, Pitchfork, Sports Illustrated, and Business Insider, have recently restructured or shut down altogether, laying off hundreds of workers. And journalism, especially the local kind, has been in dire straits for years. An average of 2.5 newspapers closed every week in 2023, leaving communities in the dark about what’s happening in their backyards. While corporate hubris certainly shoulders some of the blame for the collapse of a functioning media ecosystem, the times have also changed. Publications compete for clicks amidst the breakneck pace of social media, which has largely stopped promoting news articles. Now the rise of AI threatens another wrench in the works.

Greenpointers is far from immune from the Sword of Damocles that hovers over outlets much more prominent than ours. We have a tiny team and a giant, vibrant neighborhood to cover, and sometimes we can’t write about everything we want to write about (case in point, I am writing this about a week after it unfolded. How’s that for timely journalism?). We’re bolstered by an unusually strong and tight-knit connection to our audience, but every neighborhood should have its own Greenpointers. Your support for our work, whether that be through social media, commenting on here, showing up to our markets, or sending us tips, means the world to us. Shall I include a shameless plug for our GoFundMe? Don’t mind if I do.


The TL:dr version of this: both Williamsburg the neighborhood and the state of journalism find themselves in a similar flux, and who better to document that than Greenpointers? I won’t do ayahuasca with Juggalos or whatever Vice’s metier was, but I do promise to bring you relevant and well-researched local news.

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