Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has reportedly bought a 5% stake in Vice Media for $70m (£45m). This puts the value of the ‘Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information’ at $1.4 billion (£900m).
The deal could be seen as somewhat surprising as Vice has previously published articles such as, ‘Here’s What Fox News Will Say About Obama’s Trayvon Martin Comments’, and, ‘We Found A Mole At Murdoch’s Evil Empire’. However, reporters have been quick to point out a previous tweet from Rupert Murdoch in which he praised Vice:
Who’s heard of VICE media? Wild, interesting effort to interest millenials who don’t read or watch established media. Global success.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) October 13, 2012
This spawned replies such as:
— Ville Blåfield (@Villebla) October 13, 2012
When @rupertmurdoch is shouting you out, your hipster cred has defaulted.
— Sterling McGarvey (@sterling_m) October 13, 2012
The 5% stake is big internet news; the Guardian’s article alone has been shared over 2,000 times. That article was amended, as explained in an accompanying statement:
‘The original standfirst described Vice as a magazine. While Vice did indeed start as a magazine 20 years ago, today it can more accurately be described as a digital media and publishing group.’
This amendment points to the ambitions of Vice as it looks to use 21st Century Fox’s existing global outlets to launch in new territories. The FT reports that Vice is ‘planning an aggressive push in India through 21st Century Fox’s Star’.
Political Scrapbook has focused on another Murdoch tweet in which someone asked if he was buying Vice, to which he replied: ‘No way! Last Thing they need is corporate sponsorship’.
Paul Joseph Watson, a writer for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, uses the news to promote Infowars:
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) August 19, 2013
While others have used to story to repurpose their own content, from the FT’s Tim Bradshaw:
— Tim Bradshaw (@tim) August 16, 2013
— AllThingsD (@allthingsd) August 17, 2013
One of the most significant angles of this story is that a free print and online media company has been valued at $1.4 billion. As many publishers are facing uphill struggles against digital media, declining print sales and the changing face of reportage, Vice’s innovative use of its brand is helping it to secure a place in the industry’s future.
What do you think of the deal? Should publishers be learning from Vice, or has the hipsters’ bible sold out? Let us know in the comments below.