Hipster bible Vice and snark factory Gawker are taking digital potshots at each other, and the media world is picking sides.
Earlier today Gawker published a story taking aim at the payment practices of Vice, which it alleges underpays its employees despite being worth a reported $20 billion. The story by Hamilton Nolan, titled “Working at Vice Media Is Not As Cool As It Seems,” has been viewed 96,245 times so far. (Though, let’s face it, is working anywhere as cool as it seems?) The piece details the struggles of some of Vice’s unhappy employees, whom Gawker alleges get paid sub-$30,000 salaries in exchange for “the sheer coolness of working for Vice Media.”
“Salaries at Vice Media and the company’s pay rate for contract work were described to us as “a pittance,” “a fucking joke,” and “so low I couldn’t even consider it, it was offensive,” said one Vice employee.
Shortly after, Vice responded, and in the way that only Vice could: “Fuck you and fuck your garbage click-bait journalism,” reads the company’s rebuttal. Calling Gawker a “gossip site that openly traffics in rumor, innuendo, and in many cases straight-up bullshit” Vice denied Gawker’s claims by pointing to its healthcare benefits, stock-based compensation plan, and entry-level salaries that are “competitive with comparable emerging media companies in the digital space.”
And it wasn’t long before the Gawker-Vice dual became a full-on battle royale. In the hours after the initial Gawker post, media observers, insiders, and employees on both sides into the fray, chiming in defense for both sides.
Vice CEO Shane Smith and Gawker writer Sam Biddle go back and forth.
@samfbiddle you want 400 different salaries? Employment is a market. We pay market if we didn’t no one would work for us. It’s simple.
— shane smith (@shanesmith30) May 30, 2014
We Made Two Of Our Williamsburg Editorial Assistants Go Ass To Ass While Writing This Non-Denial To Gawker (Also They Smoked Jenkem)
— Sam Faulkner Biddle (@samfbiddle) May 30, 2014
Gawker writer Adam Weinstein, on the other hand, gives Vice’s staffers some props.
I love the great work at VICE. Editors and reporters over there are killing it every day. I hope they feel they’re getting their due. — Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) May 30, 2014
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Hamilton Nolan stands by his piece and smacks down Vice’s rebuttal
Vice does not refute any of our sources’ claims in their response, but they do say “fuck” a lot. http://t.co/6ms6V3qR8v
— Hamilton Nolan (@hamiltonnolan) May 30, 2014
Some wisdom from Reuters columnist Jack Shafer and BuzzFeed top dog Ben Smith.
Meanwhile, Gawker offers broke Vice employees a job.
And if you’re one of the excellent writers and reporters underpaid at Vice right now, a reminder: Gawker is hiring. — Joel Johnson (@joeljohnson) May 30, 2014