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Vice’s Shane Smith: ‘Young people are angry and leaving TV in droves’

Shane Smith"Young people, who are the majority of our audience, are angry, disenfranchised, and they don't like or trust mainstream media outlets. They're leaving TV in droves, but music and news are the two things that generation Y in every country are excited about and interested in."

Vice News will make no attempt to be comprehensive, Smith says, arguing that slavishly scrambling to "keep up with the Joneses" is what has badly blighted the big media. "The problem with the news cycle today and the news media in general is that it's kindergarten [kids] playing soccer. The ball goes over here, everyone goes over here. The ball goes over there, everyone goes over there."

The eccentric, gonzo-ish path that Vice has chosen to pursue instead has itself come in for sharp criticism from detractors among those he belittles as football-chasers. David Carr, the New York Times's influential media critic, memorably assailed its style as "putting on a safari hat and looking at some poop", while Dan Rather, one of US broadcasting's elder statesmen, recently dismissed Vice as "more Jackass than journalism".

...And he is unafraid to poke the flagship broadcast outlet of his newest business partner, Rupert Murdoch, who last August bought a 5% stake in Vice for $70m. "I love Fox News because they're so bad," he says. "I'm the opposite of Fox News, and so as long as Fox News is there, I'm happy, because I've got something I can throw a stick at." Unmoved by the channel's "Fair and Balanced" slogan, Smith adds: "I don't even think it's news. It's op-ed."

And by steadily building a little magazine into what he unabashedly calls the "Time Warner of the street" he maintains that he, and the hundreds of skinny-jeaned acolytes tapping away at iMacs here and in Vice offices in 33 other countries, now know instinctively what their audience wants, while major media corporations focus group themselves to death trying to work it out.

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