The results are in. And if you’re a member of the VICE PR team, they are not pretty.
Employees of Shane Smith‘s globe-spanning operation were quick to respond to a recent call by Hamilton Nolan and co. for in-the-Brooklyn-trenches feedback. Some of it adds up to anything but Jill Abramson problems:
One intern two years ago was excited to receive a full-time position — until the company offered him a salary of $20K. Employees who have worked there full time within the past two years say that salaries well under $30K are routine for “producers.” (One such producer said that after waiting in vain for more than a year for a raise to push their salary up to $30K, they left VICE last year after seeing executives spend what appeared to be thousands of dollars on drugs for a company party.)
Editors who worked on VICE’s verticals tell us they started at salaries of $24K-$26K, sometimes rising to a whopping $30K after six months or a year of good performance. For editors who run verticals, salaries are “about $40K,” said one ex-employee. And that’s at the upper end — “I can tell you that as one of the higher level editors of one of the highest trafficked verticals, I make less than 40k a year,” another editor told us.
Nolan goes on to detail even more egregious allegations by employees of various forms of content “brand clearance.” Contacted by FishbowlNY for a response to the overall Gawker article, a rep provided the following statement:
Gawker, a gossip site that openly traffics in rumor, innuendo and in many cases straight-up bullshit, and whose founder, Nick Denton, has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit by former interns for violating federal wage laws, recently published an inaccurate and irresponsible story about VICE’s workplace. The story is abysmal “journalism” even by Gawker’s standards, relying on a handful of disgruntled (and of course off the record) alleged ex-employees, some of which reference VBS.tv, a website that hasn’t existed for over four years. Gawker has been actively trolling for these sources since at least February of this year, when they published a post on their website hoping to draw people into collaborating with them.
Loath as we are to respond to their typical form of base, hit-job journalism, this time we feel we must send a message and correct the record, ignoring the author’s obvious and embarrassing emotional vendetta against this company, its success, and its senior management.
VICE currently has more than 400 full-time employees in North America. As they do in all businesses, entry-level salaries range by department, and are competitive with comparable emerging media companies in the digital space. All VICE full-time employees participate in a complete package of employee benefits: full health insurance (medical, dental, vision), life insurance, disability insurance, two weeks of paid vacation per year, ten paid holidays, five paid sick days, a maternity and paternity program (12 weeks of paid maternity leave, one week of paid paternity leave), a summer Fridays program, and a variety of company discounts and offers, including a commuter tax-free benefit, flexible health spending and dependent-care accounts, and a 401(k) program.
In addition to this compensation package, all VICE employees who meet a length-of-service criterion of two years are automatically enrolled in the company’s Stock Appreciation Rights (SAR) program, a stock-based compensation plan whereby employees receive payments based on the value of VICE stock in a liquidity event. The VICE SAR program was launched in late 2013, with long-term employees grandfathered into the program and granted SAR options that recognized their dedication and excellence for the early growth years of the company. As VICE rises in value, so do the value of the SARs, and all employees in the program benefit. This is, of course, 100 percent contrary to Gawker’s assertion in their smear job. But then again, since when did Gawker actually care about the truth?
VICE is proud of its success, and proud of all of its employees.
The above response is also posted at vice.com under the following headline: