Vice Media lays off 20 staff in restructuring plans

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Two foreign correspondents, three writers in London and 15 staff members in US to leave positions in company

Vice Media has laid off about 20 staff based in the US, London and in two foreign correspondent positions as part of restructuring plans.

It comes as Josh Tyrangiel, a former Bloomberg journalist who was hired last year to oversee the development of a nightly programme to be aired on HBO, is being promoted to oversee the companys news division.

The lay-offs came to public attention on Tuesday after a Vice News foreign correspondent, Harriet Salem, said on Twitter that she and another foreign correspondent were losing their jobs, as well as the London editorial team.

Harriet Salem (@HarrietSalem) May 24, 2016

All of UK @vicenews editorial team, plus the only two foreign correspondents laid off just now (including me). Massive US layoffs too. #vice

It is understood, however, that the bulk of the Vice News operation in the UK, which comprises 18 people working in video production and other roles, will remain intact. In addition to the two foreign correspondents, the cuts involve the departure of three staff in London and 15 staff members in the US.

Tyrangiel is in the process of implementing plans to unify all of Vices various news divisions, according to a source familiar with the matter. They expected this to result in the hiring of new staff, alongside plans to open offices in Hong Kong and San Francisco in the coming months.

A senior figure to lead the UK team would be announced in the coming months, the same source confirmed.

The developments come after Vices UK arm rejected a push for union recognition by a group of staff, bucking a growing trend that has seen unionisation at digital media businesses including at the outlets main base in the US.

At a meeting in London last month, Vice UK staff were told that the National Union of Journalists would not be recognised but staff were offered the chance to set up an internal staff council.

A Vice UK worker, who was involved in the unionisation move, said: These redundancies are shocking and an insult to the multi-award winning workers who have put so much into making Vice News a success.

The total lack of transparency and consultation also raises serious questions about the companys recent pretence at staff engagement, while failing to recognise the desire of many staff to unionise

Speaking about the developments across the company on Tuesday, a Vice spokesperson said: The plan in place will expand Vices news offerings across digital and TV, continue the recent of wave of newsroom hires, add additional foreign bureaus and marshal the companys existing news divisions into one cohesive powerhouse.

In apparently unconnected comments, Vice Medias CEO, Shane Smith, last week spoke of what he described as a looming bloodbath in the next 12 months in the digital, mobile and terrestrial sectors.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/24/vice-media-lays-off-20-staff-in-restructuring-plans