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Vice Media Lays Off Two Top Digital Editors, Names New Senior Team

UPDATED: Vice Media, in a shakeup of its digital editorial team, laid off two top editors — Vice.com editor-in-chief Jonathan Smith and managing editor Rachel Schallom.

At the same time, Vice announced several new appointments: Erika Allen, most recently with New York Magazine’s The Cut, has rejoined the company as executive managing editor, reporting to Katie Drummond, a former top editor at the Outline and Gizmodo who joined Vice as senior VP of digital in March.

In addition, Derek Mead, Vice’s executive editor of global, is expanding his duties to oversee the creation of a new features and investigations desk well as oversee technology, gaming, and issues coverage. Meredith Balkus, previously Vice.com international editor, has been named associate managing editor for Vice Digital.

The departures of Smith and Schallom were announced in an internal memo from Drummond earlier Tuesday. “In making changes to the organizational structure of the digital editorial group, we had to make difficult decisions that mean Jonathan Smith and Rachel Schallom are no longer with the company,” she wrote. Drummond, who reports to Josh Tyrangiel, executive VP of Vice News, was hired in part to help create a “consistent voice and approach” for Vice editorial operations worldwide.

The changes comes after Vice last month relaunched vice.com to merge all of its content under one umbrella. That eliminated the separate web “channels” for topic verticals like Vice News, Noisey and Munchies, a move aimed to boost its overall audience engagement (and ad revenue).

Earlier this year, as part of CEO Nancy Dubuc’s strategy to revitalize the youth-culture company’s business, Vice cut about 250 employees, or 10% of its staff, after missing revenue targets.

In another management change, Vice last month hired Cory Haik, former publisher of digital news start-up Mic, as chief digital officer to oversee global audience growth and development, platform partnerships and digital product innovation.

Smith had worked at Vice for 10 years, first joining the company as an associate online editor. Schallom had joined Vice in September 2018 after stints at Poynter Institute, the Wall Street Journal, Fusion Media Group and the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Allen comes back to Vice after working at The Cut as senior editor of culture. Previously, she worked at the Outline with Drummond, where she served as managing editor before leading the editorial team as executive editor. Prior to those positions she was deputy editor at Vice Magazine. She joined Vice in 2015 from the New York Times, where she was one of two founding editors of Times Insider.

Along with Allen’s hire, Vice News digital announced several new hires this week. Those include Morgan Baskin, who joined the D.C bureau covering policy from the Washington City Paper; Cameron Joseph, senior politics reporter in D.C from Talking Points Memo; Alex Lubben, a longtime contributor to Vice News and now a full-time as a reporter based in New York; Kate Osborn, head of audio for both Vice News and digital; and Gaby Del Valle, who joined the New York bureau from Vox to cover immigration.

The once high-flying Vice has taken a hit as it struggles to boost sales and become profitable. Disney has written off $510 million of the value of its effective 21% stake in Vice Media, indicating Vice is worth much less than the $5.7 billion valuation it had two years ago. Vice also recently closed $250 million in debt financing from a group of new investors including George Soros’ investment fund.

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