Thumbs-down | Embattled Vice CEO 'runs' from redundancy call due to worker outcry

Embattled Vice CEO 'runs' from redundancy call due to worker outcry

A virtual town hall meeting convened by embattled media firm Vice to address recent layoffs was abruptly terminated last week after executives were overwhelmed by a flood of negative emojis from employees.

The meeting, led by Chief Content Officer Cory Haik, aimed to provide updates on the company's decision to implement job cuts.

However, as Haik began her presentation, an influx of angry reactions in the form of "thumbs-down" emojis inundated the screen, signalling deep discontent among the staff.

“It’s a very, very, very difficult time in the macro landscape, I think you all know that, I’ve talked about that a lot,” she began to explain, as reported by the New York Times.

“The Vice publishing business is now going to operate as a smaller, break-even business. It is no longer unprofitable, but it is a much smaller offering.”

Following the continued outpouring of dissatisfaction from staff, Vice Media CEO Bruce Dixon intervened, acknowledging the disruptive presence of the emojis and opting to discontinue the meeting.

"It's impossible to ignore the emojis from our side," Dixon remarked. “Thank you for all the questions we have received, we’ll do our best to answer those in a forum that makes sense for this company,” he added, before shutting down the stream.

Footage of the meeting, posted on social media platforms including TikTok, quickly gained traction, drawing attention to the internal turmoil within the media company.

Users online criticised Vice's handling of the situation, with some questioning the effectiveness of its leadership.

“Cory Haik’s salary was approximately $726,068 last year. What a joke,” one user commented.

“They can’t handle emojis?” another asked.

“It is unfortunate that employees remaining with the organisation who greatly want to contribute to its success were sabotaged by a few bad actors,” a Vice Media spokesperson responded in a statement to CNN.

“We understand that emotions are running high after such a significant change to the company and will continue to communicate. Our strategic vision moving forward is the right one for Vice.”

However, the viral townhall has continued to gain attention, largely for what most consider poor handling of the situation.

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General consensus from those in leadership positions, having viewed the stream, is that the leaders should have instead addressed the concerns with greater clarity and acknowledged the difficulties staff were experiencing instead of, as one user noted, ‘running away’.

Last month, Vice Media announced plans to downsize its workforce and cease operations on its flagship website, Vice.com, signalling a significant shift in its business model.

The decision came amidst a series of challenges faced by the company, including financial difficulties and shifts in the digital media landscape.

Dixon, in a memo to staff, cited the need to adapt to changing market dynamics, emphasising a transition towards a studio model and a greater focus on social channels for content distribution.

Despite these efforts, Vice Media continues to grapple with internal dissent and external scrutiny.



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