No words can describe how much I like VICE News. The videos are immersive and in your face. The stories are punchy, and in your face. Whether text or film, the reporting style provokes. How often do you read “shit” in news copy, for example?
In story “Tea Partiers Are Now Harassing High School Kids on Cinco de Mayo” Alice Speri writes: “That predictably led to a bunch of local conservatives losing their shit, with some parents suing the school for First Amendment infringement”. I love it!
My book Responsible Reporting: A Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers spotlights VICE for immersive journalism. But another moniker applies: provocative journalism.
At a time when bloggers and reporters don’t so much gather news but aggregate rumor stories, Alice’s conflict-ridden story is refreshing reading. Maybe I appreciate the report for being so old school—conflict, conflict, conflict—with fresh, modern language. Hehe, the story dek reads: “Ban of US flags on Cinco de Mayo turned into a racist shit show at a California high school”. The style is a bit Gawker, but with some real reporting from social media and journalist outreach.
The difference between provocative headlines, deks, or leds that clickbait and those that seem to but don’t is the reporting behind them. VICE delivers, which is too much a rarity.
Another example: Simon Ostrovsky’s immersive, aggressive VICE News video reports from Ukraine are riveting “you are there” journalism. How much better news would be if more journalists reported firsthand rather than sat on their asses re-reporting the anonymously sourced stories posted by their peers and bloggers.
Real reporting comes with real risks, as his detainment in Ukraine shows. What a relief brave Simon was released. Read the tone of this report. Soak it in. This is how you report responsibly. His detainment is what can happen when your on-camera reporting is confrontational, rather than being Mr. or Ms. Talking Head retelling what’s going on. Simon takes you to the news. You feel the conflict.
Alice accomplishes something similar in her written news story. You feel the conflict—both sides of it. Her shit don’t stink. Does yours?