A look inside VICE’s devices

VICE Media has become a global media empire, but what makes them so unique?

EAST LANSING – Immersive, in-depth reporting. Raw, offbeat topics. Not giving a sh*t. These are three things that define VICE Media. Since its birth in 1994 as a small, free punk magazine called Voice of Montreal, VICE has grown to be a colossal presence in the media. Their ability to push boundaries within reason has gained the admiration of fans from all around the globe; they currently operate out of 36 offices worldwide. VICE didn’t get where it is today by abiding by traditional media tactics. They are constantly innovating and looking for new ways to create, distribute and monetize their premium content.

VICE was founded by Shane Smith, Gavin McInnes and Suroosh Alvi, and since then, its multimedia presence has erupted. The company currently boasts a network of digital channels, a television and film production studio, a record label, a book publishing center, a newly-launched television channel called VICELAND and VICE.com, a major producer of online original content. With so many moving parts, keeping everything integrated can be an issue.


Keeping it all connected

Throughout his seven years as executive editor of VICE.com, Jonathan Smith has played a major part in the maturation of the site. “VICE.com was just me and one other guy,” said Smith. “It was what we found interesting or funny or stupid that day. We kind of operated inside of a vacuum, in the sense that we didn’t pay attention to what other companies were doing.” As the brand evolved and resources became more plentiful, Smith saw a need to incorporate more mainstream news coverage in their daily content.

“As we’ve grown we’ve had to branch out and commission things that pertain to what is on the Internet on any given day,” said Smith. “We want to make sure we still really care about what we’re covering.” Sometimes it’s difficult to bring that certain “Vice-ness” to topics being covered by every major publication. “We always try to find a unique angle, like an original interview with a source no one else has spoken to, or take a completely different angle altogether on those stories everyone is covering.”

The launch of VICELAND has presented several hurdles for VICE.com to overcome. “We are in a very unique position as a company with so many different platforms,” said Smith. “Our challenge for 2016 is how to integrate our departments in ways no other company has done before, because no other company has been as connected as we are.” The channel officially began broadcasting on February 29, and since then, VICE.com has been shifting how it operates. They are working towards a more defined partnership between the editorial and video production sectors. Before, there were stories that worked with text and those that worked for video; it was rare that a topic would be covered in both forms. Now, each new episode that premieres on VICELAND will be accompanied by an article on the site that will incorporate the same themes. “The way forward in the future for our company is figuring out more effective ways to distribute across different platforms and make them play off each other.”


It’s not just about desktop visits

VICE has also made strides to deliver their content through mobile applications. Two free iPhone apps, “VICE” and “VICE NEWS”, deliver content available on VICE.com and subchannels, and the free iPad app “VICE MAGAZINE” provides a paperless copy of the print magazine. The Pew Research Center reports 15 million unique visitors to VICE.com and its corresponding app in January 2015 alone. VICE NEWS saw 1.1 million subscribers combined with 175 million video views in early 2015.

The company also has a presence on another social network whose tremendous growth shows no signs of slowing down any time soon: Snapchat. There are 20 publications on the “Discover” page of the app, and VICE publishes quick-read stories on their channel on a daily basis. Roughly 100 million Snapchatters use the app every single day, with over 8 billion daily video views. The majority of these users fall within the 13-34 age group, which is a demographic whose attention is not always held by traditional media tactics. As one of just 20 brands on the Discover page, VICE has opened the door to an enormous audience that may not have been exposed to their content through other delivery systems.


No one enjoys waiting for the ad to finish

VICE favors sponsored content for the majority of their longer pieces, where a brief “brought to you by…” plays right before the video, rather than full video ads or commercial breaks. Traditional ad techniques are invasive and deter viewers by forcing them to wait until they can skip the ad or watch it all the way through. Their approach allows the sponsor to still get their name out there, without the annoyance of an irrelevant video to watch. According to the Pew Research Center, $50.7 billion was spent on digital advertisements in 2014, up 18 percent from 2013. Of that $50.7 billion, $19 billion was spent on mobile ads, equalling roughly 37 percent of all ads that ran in 2014. Banner ads have always dominated, bringing in 49 percent of all digital ad revenue in 2014. Surprisingly, the types of sponsorships that VICE holds so dear rank last among digital categories, bringing in only $2 billion in 2014. The fact that VICE has had such success with this type of advertising shows how they are able to constantly differentiate themselves from their competitors, and are experts at monetizing their content in ways that keep both sponsors and consumers happy.


Is Virtual Reality our future reality?

Virtual reality (VR) has been on the brink of a major breakthrough into mainstream media for a while now. Everyone knows that it’s the logical next step for the future of journalism, but many organizations are afraid to make that landmark investment in the technology. “It reminds me of people in the 1960s thinking new technology is bullsh*t”, said Smith. “It’s not gonna catch on until there’s a way to make people look less stupid with the goggles.”

VICE partnered with the VR tech company Vrse to create the first VR news feature, called Vice News VR: Millions March. The film documented the Black Lives Matter march on December 13, 2014, called the “Millions March”. Over 25,000 people gathered at Washington Square Park in New York City and marched up Fifth Avenue in protest of the killings of African Americans Michael Brown, Eric Gardner and Akai Gurley at the hands of police officers. The film places the viewer right in the middle of all the action. “I was there when it happened,” said Smith. “Weeks later I put on the VR goggles and watched it. I felt like I was there again, it was wild. My immediate thought was that this is not only the future of journalism, but the future of everything.”

Journalism’s future has been cloudy for quite some time now. It’s evident that the “death” of the field is no longer looming, but no one has the answers to what comes next. VICE has been constantly evolving since its Voice of Montreal days, and is a perfect example of a publication that enjoys facing risk head-on. Shane Smith and other executives are constantly looking for new ways to innovate both within the company itself and how the company interacts with the world. By integrating their incredible variety of departments, they will undoubtedly maintain their elite status in every field they are a part of.



Jonathan Smith, Executive Editor at VICE.com





Warm Up With a Warm-up!

As temperatures drop, it’s easy for kids and parents alike to fall into a slump of watching hours of television or playing video games. The lack of snow this year has prevented some epic snowball fights, but the milder weather makes it easier to enjoy more time outside. There are plenty of ways to keep kids active both indoors and outdoors during the winter months.

Embrace the cold
Families can make a day out of classic winter activities like sledding,


Mother Parker from A Christmas Story knew how to prevent frostbite!

skating, skiing and/or snowboarding. Snowshoeing is a great option for those who love hiking. No matter how you choose to play outside, the key to keeping kids interested in being out in the cold is keeping them warm. Layers are a must, along with insulated boots, hats, gloves and scarves. Any time rolling around in the snow is an option, snowpants should be included in your kid’s outfit.

It takes more calories to keep your body warm, so working up a sweat in below-freezing temperatures acts as double duty! Making snow angels and building snowmen are low-energy ways to have fun with the snow. Your young architect can help build an igloo, which can become a hangout spot until it warms back up.

Keep the party inside
There are tons of ways to get kids moving without having to leave the house, too. Interactive video games, like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, are great options to get kids that love to spend hours in front of the television off the couch.

Have a dance party!
Play some funky tunes on the big speakers and get your groove on with your kids. Dancing never feels like a workout, but just a few upbeat tracks can get everyone’s heartbeat up and breaking a sweat, plus it’s a great stress reliever!

Create activity zones inside


You can never have too much bubble wrap!

If there’s a hallway in your home, set up a competition consisting of races and endurance tests. See who can do the most jumping jacks, sit-ups, or who can balance on one leg longest. Utilize a carpeted staircase for a more intense race. Tape a long strip of bubble wrap to the hallway floor and create a track for toddlers to run up and down (or you, no one can resist bubble wrap!)

Bring fun outside games inside! Use masking tape to draw a hopscotch board on the floor and have kids hop through it. The classic “floor is lava” game is another easy way to have kids hopping all over the house. Outdoor toys such as jump ropes and hula-hoops can also be brought inside if there’s enough space. Set up toys and cushions around a room to create an indoor obstacle course. You can even reverse roles and have kids set up the obstacle course for you to go through, and make a race out of it!

Ice skating is a go-to for wintertime fun, but cold feet may keep kids off the ice. It’s possible to bring the fun of skating inside! Polish hardwood floors to make them slippery, and pull on a pair of thick, fuzzy socks. People of all ages can have fun “skating”, and showing off tricks that might require a little more skill when attempted on an actual rink.

BCBSM cares!
With one in three Michigan children being classified as overweight or obese, staying active during the hibernation months is crucial. Reducing TV and stationary video game time helps promote an active lifestyle. Just an hour each day of vigorous activity can really make a difference in a child’s development. BCBSM is dedicated to helping Michigan families become more active and lead healthier lives. Finding fun ways to get moving will benefit not only your family’s health, but fosters bonding time that will cultivate memories you will cherish forever.




Melanoma of the Skin

Common Cancers 2015

Compared to other cancers, melanoma is pretty common. These are the estimated amount of new cases to be diagnosed in 2015.

Melanoma of the skin is an increasingly prevalent form of skin cancer, especially in the last 40 years. It can occur anywhere on the skin, and is more common in people with fairer skin tones.

Many more cases are diagnosed in older people, although it is not uncommon for younger people to develop melanoma as well. Women are more likely to develop melanoma on their arms or legs, where men are more likely to develop it on the area from their shoulders to their hips, called the trunk.

Personal health history may play a part in developing the disease, but prolonged exposure to sunlight is a huge factor. Blistering sunburns and tanning beds are two major contributors to developing melanoma, and it often affects both small and large moles. Changes in mole appearance and skin pigmentation are common indicators that melanoma may be present, and it’s dire to get them checked by a doctor. Doctors and nurses can perform a skin exam or a biopsy to confirm the presence of melanoma. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure, using sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds at all costs are easy ways to prevent melanoma.

New Cases v. Deaths

Number of new melanoma cases and number of melanoma-caused deaths per 100,000 people.

Although it is a rather common form of cancer, the 5-year survival rate is surprisingly high. The number of new cases each year has yet to significantly decline, but the death rate each year is significantly less than the rate of diagnosis.

New Cases by Age

The median age of melanoma diagnosis is 63, and the most commonly diagnosed age group is 55-64.

Deaths by Age

The median age of those that die from melanoma is 69, and the highest death rate belongs to the 75-84 age group.

This data came from the National Cancer Institute database.


As temperatures finally begin to rise, East Lansing residents will have more than just April showers to worry about. Potholes and pavement wear are at their peak during spring months, proving disastrous to roads and cars alike.

As the weather fluctuates between freezing and mild, the pavement continuously freezes and thaws. This cycle intensifies the damage done to roads from regular traffic loads.

“We are still waiting to see how the overall road conditions turn out this year,” said Bob Scheuerman, City of East Lansing Engineering Administrator. “We need to wait for the final thaw to fully assess the damage.”

Potholes have already begun to pop up all around the area, showing signs of a rough trek ahead.

“My car is already the opposite of a smooth ride,” said Melissa Witkowski, a student at Michigan State University. “It pretty much constantly feels like I’m going off-roading.”

Michigan roads have taken a toll on Witkowski’s 1999 sea foam green Pontiac Sunfire. Transmission issues prevent her from taking her vehicle on the freeway at all anymore.

“Last year, I hit a pothole driving on I-96 and immediately had to get of the expressway,” said Witkowski. “I’m not a car person so I still don’t know how bad it messed my car up. I know that it shook it up so badly that I couldn’t accelerate over 40 mph for about a week. Now I can get up to 60 on a good day.”

Newer vehicles are not immune to pothole damage either. Not all damage done is immediate, or always visible to the naked eye.

“A lot of people think potholes only hurt your car’s tires and rims,” said Frank Felicia, a local mechanic. “They can actually cause a whole lot of trouble that can add up to thousands in repairs real quick.”

Over time, damage from pavement imperfections can prematurely wear out a car’s shocks and struts, misalign the steering system, and even cause engine failure.

“I’ve had to invest so much money that I don’t have in this car,” said Witkowski. “I probably could have two crappy Sunfires with the amount I’ve had to put into my old lady.”

No one knows just how rough the roads may get over the next few weeks. East Lansing infrastructure workers are preparing to take on the task.

“So far, the potholes aren’t as bad as in previous years,” said Ron Lacasse, City of East Lansing Infrastructure Administrator. “We haven’t had as many freeze-thaw cycles, so as long as the weather stays relatively dry, pothole season may be somewhat manageable.”

In addition to weather and traffic wear on the pavement, deicing agents used to combat snow and ice also have an effect.

“We use road salt in addition to three different types of brine in the winter,” said Lacasse. “We don’t enforce road closures during the winter to prevent damage, but spring loading restrictions went into effect within the past few weeks.”

Ideally, the weather would stay fair and all the potholes and cracks would be filled within the next few months.

“Overall road funding has been inadequate for overall road repair,” said Lacasse. “We aren’t in any trouble, but it’s just not as good as it should be.”

East Lansing residents can expect two major construction projects to begin soon.

“We will be working on Bogue Street from Grand River to the Red Cedar,” said Lacasse. “After that, work will begin on Abbot Road from Burcham to Saginaw.”

As long as the weather continues to heat up and stay dry, pothole season shouldn’t be as detrimental as it has been in the past. Being aware of the road and avoiding trouble spots are drivers’ best defense against pothole-related damage this spring.

“Potholes are my worst enemy,” said Witkowski. “My car’s days are numbered. I really hope this spring doesn’t do it in.”

Stuck in the Hot Seat

Hot, tingly cheeks and clammy palms are sensations directly associated with humiliation. Saying or doing the wrong thing in front of a group of people can be mortifying. Although these situations are never ideal, they are a part of life and everyone experiences them at some point; learning to take them with stride is a journey, and also an essential life skill.

“Public speaking is definitely in my top three sources of anxiety,” said Calvin Zaviski, a student at Michigan State University. “I’ve even dropped a class before because a 10 minute speech was on the syllabus.”

Being humiliated in the classroom is a common nightmare among college students. What pupils often fail to realize is that their professors are humans with emotions, too. No one is immune to humiliation; even the most confident people get embarrassed once in a while.

“I had a psych professor that split his pants right down the center one day in class,” said Madeline Traynor, an MSU junior. “After that day in class, I was much more comfortable answering questions and presenting, because it’s hard to be intimidated by someone you’ve seen so vulnerable.”

Hearing others’ embarrassing accounts makes it easier to laugh at yourself, especially when the victim is not someone that is easily humiliated.

Rob LaDuca, chemistry professor and Associate Dean of Administration and Academic Governance of Lyman Briggs College, prepared to teach roughly 400 students in his general chemistry lecture. What he did not prepare for was to put himself in a position that would be somewhat embarrassing for every person in that room.

Clad in his usual Hawaiian shirt and slacks, LaDuca began a visual explanation of the gas laws and their properties using a latex balloon.

“I had just grabbed a pink one out of the bag randomly,” said LaDuca.

Little did he know, that the girlish hue would be the icing on the cake of his demise.

“I demonstrated Avogadro’s Law by inflating the balloon by simply blowing into it,” LaDuca said. “That law states that volume increases with more molecules of gas…kind of a duh.”

With the balloon bulging in his hand, he tied off the end.           Boyle’s Law was up next, which states that the volume of a gas decreases if pressure increases. The idea was to squash the balloon in his hands so hard that it would explode, or so he thought.

“I pressed and pressed and pressed but the balloon did not pop,” he said.

As he began to feel those tingles in his cheeks, the class became a little more interested in the lecture. The sight of a grown man struggling to pop a pink balloon sparked the interest of even the most zoned-out student. Soon the class rallied behind their professor, cheering him on to defeat the evil little rubber orb.

“A student yelled out ‘Sit on it!’ I said ‘Okay,’ and went around to the front of the lecture table, put the balloon under my butt, and sat down hard,” LaDuca said.

Everyone braced themselves for the “Pop!” that was long overdue. The balloon had a different agenda. The devious air bladder managed to maneuver itself in such a way that it escaped the direct pressure of its captor’s body weight.

“A long, pink protuberance with the little nub on the tip spurted out from between my legs,” he said. “I was so embarrassed.”

The class fell silent for a brief second as everyone processed what they were looking at. The look of pure shock was replicated across every face in the room, evident by the abundance of gaping mouths.

“The class died laughing with this view of their instructor having a foot-long balloon schlong between his legs,” LaDuca said.

Everyone deals with humiliation differently. Some people embrace it and join in the laughter, where some freeze and shut down. Being the personable, vibrant teacher that he is, LaDuca did not shrink in the spotlight. Rather, he became more human in his pupils’ eyes.

“Most students were laughing, but I saw a couple turning red and with their hands over their mouths so I did apologize,” the professor said.

LaDuca repositioned his wire-rimmed glasses and shook out his dark, shaggy hair. He giggled along with his pupils at his own misfortune. Eventually he was able to regain control of the class and carry on as if he hadn’t just accidentally shown the class much more than they had bargained for.

Instead of cracking under pressure and losing control of the class, LaDuca was able to make the most out of his situation. A lot can be learned from people that are able to laugh at themselves. Having a humorous outlook is a big step towards making the most out of every situation and truly enjoying life.

Public speaking is a major phobia for many people. Everyone feels humiliated at some point in time, and in the moment it is easy to feel isolated. Even the most confident people have their embarrassing moments; it is how they deal with them that sets them apart.

LaDuca, a man who would not be considered easy to embarrass, took the experience in stride. He rose above the humiliation and made an example of how to deal with a public speaking demonstration gone wrong.

“The moral?” said LaDuca, “Don’t sit on tough balloons. It will make it look like a [expletive removed].”

*photo taken from http://www.digdang.com/media/images/im_so_embarrassed_14197.jpg