Shane Smith

March 21, 2014

I'm VICE founder Shane Smith and the things I saw filming the new episodes of our HBO show scared the shit out of me. AMA.

Hi, I'm Shane, founder of VICE. Maybe you've been following us and watching our documentaries for years, or maybe you heard about us last year when we went back to North Korea for our HBO show. Either way, I'm glad you're with us now. For Season 2 of our HBO show we went to places like Afghanistan, Rio, Pakistan, and Greenland to cover what I think are our best stories ever. The season started last week, and you can catch a new episode tonight and every Friday at 11PM EST.

And you can also watch the first episode of Season 2 for free here.

NOTE: And for those of you complaining that the HBO show should be longer than half an hour: We've got way more online between our new channel VICE News and docs like 'Snake Island': a remote island with the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the world.

Thanks for all the great questions. I've gotta run, but please tune in to VICE on HBO tonight at 11 EST

How was your day today?

it just started

[No question]

OK just logged on.

How did your parents/friends/loved ones react to the thought of you going to North Korea and criticizing it on film? Also, didn't the NK "guides" "inspect" your camera & other equipment before letting you leave?

They didn't see it til I got back. Yes they looked through our things when we left but we had many decoy camera cards.

What other places would you like to cover next?

Cuba, Saudi, Iran, Crimea, there are plenty.

Do you like to do drugs? I like doing drugs.

I used to very much. Now I am old and tired. I like to lie in the water and drink Ouzo.

What was the thing that surprised you most about General Butt Naked? And while you were there how often did you fear for your life? O and your awesome dude!

Thanks and the most surprising thing was how cavalier he was about talking about cannibalism. I was really scared when we got trapped in Westpoint and couldn't find our way out of the warren of brothels and heroin dens.

What's up with Fightland? Is that an official Zuffa/Vice operation? I remember reading this on Deadspin and we never got an answer from the UFC or from you guys on it.

Article in question:

Its a JV which we announced in a Press Release so no real digging required there.

WTF was this dude's problem?

Ha ha, ask him.

I love Epicly Later'd...Do you think you'll ever focus on snowboarders?

Have you checked out Powder and Rails? Its all about snowboading

Why do you think Dennis Rodman is so crazy about Kim Jong Un?

It was love at first sight.

What was it like visiting the India/Pakistan border?

Thanks for answering man!

very very spooky, they absolutely hate each other and have masses of weapons trained to hit targets at the slightest provocation. There is a constant flow of insurgents from Pakistan and so the Indians are continually on high alert.

Hi Shane, thanks for a great show. Two questions, first off was there ever a show that you wanted to do but backed out off because it was too dangerous, and secondly if you could do a show about anything today without practical limitations, what would you like to do?

Yes twice in Somalia our fixers got caught in a gun battle before we arrived so we called off the shoot. I would do what we are doing on the HBO show. IF you mean story I guess I would love to interview Putin right now.

Hey Shane, would you ever consider doing an online nightly news broadcast show to give viewers and citizens another point of view than the mainstream media? Its something we all badly need.

Sure. Are you offering me a job?

Any way we can watch this in the UK?

soon my dog of war soon.

doing anything new with North Korea any time soon?

we did a story yesterday on VICE NEWS>


I have a story coming out about Deepwater Horizon that is very heavy indeed.

What happened to the team that was reporting in Caracas, Venezuela? You have plans to air an episode about our country on HBO?

they are still there reporting. Either on HBO or VICE NEWS but yes we will.

You are the man. love what you are doing, constantly pushing the envelope, not taking yourselves too seriously. congrats with the success. Where do you see the future of vice going?

thanks, we are going to launch more and more verticals, more TV and mobile content and more and more countries. We are just going to keep on keeping on.

What did you think of the New Yorker article on Vice?

It was OK, those type of articles are never what you think they are going to be. Its a weird part of the business for sure. Media log rolling. I wish someone would follow us and get the real story someday.

What can be done about the concentration camps in North Korea? Love the show, I watch all Vice material, I think it's the best news source available.

pressure has to be put on Russia which condones them. Although I don't think we will be putting any type of real pressure on Russia any time soon.

Is there one place you've visited that you will absolutely not go back to ever again? If so, why?

North Korea because I can't and Dafur for the same reason.


Whiskey no wait… wine…. no whiskey…. well….

Were the Koreans happy or did they look tired?

they were not real happy no.

Will Murdoch owning part of the company effect the content? Why or why not?

No and why would it?

Will Murdoch owning part of the company effect the content? Why or why not?

well well well I just noticed all of this happened after I signed off. SO here is my answer "Why would it?" because a) 5% of ownership buys you say in... nothing. Biz matters, editorial, anything. This should be self-evident but apparently it isn't. B) he is running the largest media company in the world if you think that he has any time for VICE even if he wanted to you have no idea how things work in the real world. c) I vote 95% of the board why? so as to keep control of all matters editorial and commercial. We did this deal to stay independent it is unheard of to do non-majority deals why? Because they do not have a say in any of the management of the company. and D) Vice is successful because of what we do and say to change that would hurt the business, no one would want to change that. We change the content of the company on one criteria - that we like it - period

Pretty much the most bullshit answer you could expect. Even if he had "sold out" I would have expected Shane to come up with something wittier or even refer to some long game strategy. This response just says he either thinks this question is irrelevant and is an idiot or he thinks his audience are idiots who can be pacified by this response.

I thought it was silly and self evident I was wrong. If you think that 21st Century Fox invested in VICE to take over editorial control then its just beyond silly.

"Why would it?" is the exact type of response that shakes our confidence. While I'd totally expect you to be the type of person that wouldn't compromise your quality, it's a totally reasonable question. Shareholders affect the direction of their holdings, plain and simple. My fear as a reader isn't that an investor like Murdoch would necessarily influence the actual subject matter or leanings of your content but more that he'd influence your priorities as a business. Add to that the fact that in the last year or so has become a pro at dropping shallow click-bait articles about absolutely nothing all over social media and the question gains even more credibility. I love Vice, Noisy, Motherboard, all of it...but that's a real question and a real concern for some of your longest, most devout readers.
Edit: grammar x2

I'm sorry if I came off as flippant it just seemed to be a bit of a silly question. You are right that investors want to company to do well. If a company like VICE is doing (very) well then investors want it to continue. Our content is driving traffic our traffic and IP makes us money. No one wants to fuck with that equation. If you think that their investment is linked to "click bait" social media then I don't know what to say other than we have never talked to anyone at fox about content, social marketing or anything else. We are in house soup to nuts.

Are you implying that he hasn't influenced the media he owns previously?

Ummmm he doesn;t own VICE. I do.

Ok, this answer right here concerns me. Do you really expect me to believe that a man as intelligent as you doesn't see how an owner of a business that produces a product, (especially media) can affect the end result of that product? That you cannot conceive why new ownership might affect a product leads me to question some of your other reporting. Plus, it's not as if Murdoch has the best record with media.

You keep talking about ownership. how is 5% ownership? I own VICE, I run VICE Fox has zero input into VICE nor are they interested in any way.

Pleasing shareholders is a big part of most companies

Edit:for example you might be less likely to do a negative story about foxnews.

I call out Fox News and CNN and MSNBC and the rest.

Mate, Murdoch is major player in fucking the Australian enviormental policies through his puppet prime minister who he had elected via a nationwide propaganda campaign run via HIS media. That is WHY it would effect VICE's credibility. As others have said, your answering a question with a question bullshit is a bad sign of what lies in the future for VICE. Answer the fucking question with an answer.

you sir have a potty mouth. And I just did.

Well that's a shame. I think most people have a concern that Murdoch will unfairly influence vice, has he has done to other media in the past.

Whether you think it is a fair concern or not, end of the day the point is people are worried about it and vice's integrity. A standoffish reply like that doesn't really help much.

You appear to be right. Again I thought it was silly but people seem to think otherwise. I still don;t understand how smart people think that 5% equates to ownership and decision making. People just want to think the worst I suppose. We were happy to do this deal because it maintained our independence while retaining complete (i repeat COMPLETE) control. If people don't want to believe that then there is sadly little I can do about it.

No and why would it?

Aaaaand that, right there, is the first indication that it already has.

How so?

Will Murdoch owning part of the company effect the content? Why or why not?

well well well I just noticed all of this happened after I signed off. SO here is my answer "Why would it?" because a) 5% of ownership buys you say in... nothing. Biz matters, editorial, anything. This should be self-evident but apparently it isn't. B) he is running the largest media company in the world if you think that he has any time for VICE even if he wanted to you have no idea how things work in the real world. c) I vote 95% of the board why? so as to keep control of all matters editorial and commercial. We did this deal to stay independent it is unheard of to do non-majority deals why? Because they do not have a say in any of the management of the company. and D) Vice is successful because of what we do and say to change that would hurt the business, no one would want to change that. We change the content of the company on one criteria - that we like it - period

Currently listening to you and Joe Rogan. How did you two become friends? What has been your favorite/craziest time with him?

Thank you for founding Vice, been following for years. The quality in content has always continued to improve.

We became friends by doing the podcasts. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does. He fucking schooled me at pool last night. Bit of a shark.

Do you think there's any hope for fixing, or at least stalling climate change? And if so, what do you see as the solution?

technology has to step in and consumer advocacy we have to create change using our purchasing power.

How do you choose who hosts HBO episodes? (I write for you, freelance)

-Thor Benson

WE choose them if they are great and have good stories. Do a test for us and we take a look.

I love, love the new Vice News channel on YouTube. Every other news outlet on the planet could learn a thing or two from you guys about how to run a media outlet.

My question, though, is about profitability in the age of web ads. Does Vice make enough money from YouTube ads to pay for the docs or does funding from the HBO show in addition to the magazine go to cover Vice News' budget?

Edit: Follow-up! How much does it cost (in total, talent, equipment, travel, food, etc) to put together a series like the dispatch from Ukraine?

we make money from many different avenues. Now a lot of content licensing deals. this allows us the freedom to create content we love.

Why do you think entities such as The New York Times (Or more specifically David Carr), have such an issue with Vice? Sure you've mastered the attention of the interwebs, but isn't a news vehicle supposed to produce current and interesting news? Why do they hate about your success?

I don't think Carr hates us at all. Quite frankly we are friends. That said we are the new kid on the block and are taking up traffic and revenue that all mainstream outlets want to keep. He is a dog for NYT and I am a dog for VICE.

Can I have a job at VICE?

EDIT: May I have a job at VICE?


Shane: Loving the coverage of the Ukraine. Saw the piece yesterday about the crew getting attacked. Any comment on that and are there plans to go back into Ukraine in the somewhat near future to see the after effects of Russian control in Crimea? Thanks!

yes we are still there still shooting. Its a story that has huge geo-political ramifications

I discovered VICE a few years ago when you got a CNN plug about the first North Korea visit. Can you talk about the early years of the company -- how you got started? what'd you do to get street cred? who helped you along the way?

Love everything you're doing at VICE, Motherboard, Noisey, Creators Project, and others... I don't know how I'd wind down my evenings without you guys!

we started as a mag then around 2006 got into online video. That's when everything changed for us. We were lucky that we stumbled into the space early and made our mistakes when no one was watching. Now we are using those lessons to expand our content offerings around the world.

Hey Shane, I enjoy the show a bunch and thanks for doing an AMA. One of my favorite things about VICE's stories is that they give you a real picture and idea of how things the mainstream media reports on actually play out. For instance, everyone hears about the corruption and fraud in Afghanistan, but to actually see a guy who had been sabotaging equipment so he could fill out new invoices was pretty eye-opening.

However, there are times, especially in the written pieces on the websites, that feels a bit, well, wrong. Many seem written by aspiring young writers and journalists attempting to touch on a larger theme. But they come off as aloof and patronizing towards their subjects, often sacrificing content to come across as "edgy." Again, big fan of most of the content, but I would really love to hear your response. I have a lot of optimism for VICE and similar organizations because I think you provide a service that most other media outlets don't, despite that shortcoming.

I think if you look at VICE as a whole maybe you will understand a bit better. We post 100 - 150 articles a day in each of our countries. That is thousands upon thousands of posts. The people who like NEWS hate the funny stuff. The people who like fashion hate the sports stuff. Some LOVE the writers some HATE the writers. Vice is an omnibus so it has a bit of everything. But we are launching verticals so you can stay in NEWS or Music or Travel or what-have-you and not have your senses abused by things that you don't want to see or aren't interested in.

What do you think it means to be a "hipster?"

I have nothing but love for VICE. Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA!

I have not idea. It's become such a catch all term. I think that at the root its someone who is interested in culture and subcultures. Music, fashion, film, photography etc… They have now become vilified but I don't think the vitriol is warranted.

Came to say i love what Simon Ostrovsky's coverage in Crimea has been some of the best reporting I've seen.

He is a special, special man. Utterly fearless. Oh and thanks very much.

Shane, anyway to dumb down the hipster content online? Some of it is nauseating. I love VICE docs, the HBO series, and a lot of the written pieces, but some of the sludge that is thrown around online seems to be merely for click value, and in my opinion undermines the integrity of your organization .

I'll see what I can do.



Why do you think that a lot of media outlets - other than your own - have so much trouble talking about the shit you guys do? The world is a wholeheartedly fucked up place and you guys do a great job of showing the viewer that. Of course there's a lot of great stuff too, in this world. I guess my question is why do you focus on the stories you do, and why don't others?

MOst media companies are locked into a News cycle, we aren't so have a lot more freedom to do the stories that we want to do.

Hi Shane! Your videos on youtube are the main reason and became interested in making documentaries. I just returned from Bhutan making a documentary on how their culture is changing in modern times.

You always seems so cool under pressure no matter where you go and who you meet. It seems like you always give the same genuine smile to whoever you are talking to no matter their station in life. I'm wondering if this is a natural carisma or if you had to carefully hone this skill. What were you like earlier in your life?

hahaha, I'm not an actor. That's just good ol me.

How are you able to air your hbo show on YouTube? HBO never lets this happen

they are very nice to us.

Are you ever going to be on David Choes Podcast DVDASA?????

I would love to. I love Choe, he is a beautiful baby boy.

Which journalist do you think has the biggest balls either for living in dangerous areas or for breaking dangerous stories?

All of them are pretty amazing but Ben Anderson has done it all and his footage speaks for itself.



Hey Shane, Vice is without a doubt my favorite show on TV. Watching the show has opened the door to all the other great journalism work that you guys put out. It's refreshing to see news stories about things that actually matter that most of the media covers up or refuses to show at all. I hope Vice on hbo lasts forever. My question is how many season of the show do you think will run? It seems to me like this could be an hbo show that could last forever.

You have to ask HBO but we would like to be the next gen 60 Minutes and go on forever. I will be the new Andy Rooney.

What's the most intense situation you've been in while filming?

Being led to a killing field by a Shia militia in Iraq. Not fun.

Hi Shane, me and my friends are planning on travelling this summer. Any country you suggest travelling too? We were thinking of either south america or europe.

South America for sure.

You guys are the fucking shit. IMO, the second best documentary makers in the country (PBS: Frontline). My only gripe is that the video section of your website is so fucking difficult to navigate. With all the shows and featured videos, it's hard to find the fresh content. I'm not sure how I would improve it but it's just a small beef of mine. Keep on trucking and we'll help you take over the media soon

we are trying to get better as we go, pls leave feedback on the site.

Hey Shane, I'm a very big fan of your work. You are an inspiration to young journalists everywhere. I just have one question for you. What would you tell someone that wants to get into the field of journalism? Is it really that bad out there (job-wise)?

Oh, also, do you only do internships based out of the LA and New York offices?

We don;t really do internships anymore. But there are plenty paid positions available. I would say if you want to get into journalism find a story you feel really strongly about and then go do it. There is no better school than the field.

Where do you think Vice is heading for the future? More documentaries? More biased magazine articles? More HBO shows?

Yes to all. Esp the mag articles.

Have you guys ever filmed anything so bad that you wouldn't put into on of your shows/documentaries?

yes often.

Hi Shane. I'm a big fan of VICE and have been following the site for several years. I've especially enjoyed your covering on Afghanistan and also your recent Ukraine dispatch series. My comment is that I'd like to suggest/wish for reporting from perhaps a bit less dramatic locations. Don't get me wrong.

I fully appreciate all the stories coming in from dangerous locales like Kandahar or the CAR, but honestly the most enjoyment/enlightenment from VICE that I get is seeing people from my own age group 20-30 (I hale from the latter part of this section) dealing with the struggles of their everyday life.

I want to see what its like to be in your late 20s in different situations and with perhaps less resources, but still managing to forge a meaningful and impactful presence in society. Shows like Eddie Huang's FOB is what I'd like more of.

Sorry for the grammar. I've drank a half bottle of vodka.

message received we are planning a lot more local stories. You should check out Choe's story on scrapping next week.

Thanks for doing the stories that you do. I remember watching the original DVD and being pretty freaked out by the Bulgarian Dirty Bomb story, with how easy it was for you guys to find a nuke. With all that you've seen, what threat/disaster/etc. scares you the most?

Sea level rise and Russia flexing its muscles again in a Cold War like fashion.

I am from Mexico, who are your Mexican representatives or reporters, if you have, and do you have any offices here?

We are in Roma in DF you should talk to our head of production for LATAM Bernardo Loyola.

Hey Shane, huge fan of Vice and everything you guys are about. I'm wondering what your first job in Media was? Basically how'd you get in the game?

My first job in Media was starting VICE. Its been my only gig ever since.

Hey Shane! I think what you guys do, and the Vice model in general is fucking fantastic. It's tough for us women journalists to be heard, (particularly those of us, like myself, living in the Middle East). Do you think Vice will start featuring more women leads?

Yes, you should watch Fazeelat's story on slavery tonight. She is an amazing host.

Can you please go get drunk with Joe Rogan again? More of a request than a question.

I did last night. As a consequence I am very hung over today.

What is the best way for a young journalist to break into the industry?

get out there into the field and do it.

Do you plan on making VICE a more mainstream program? The type of non biased news you display needs to be viewed on a massive scale. I think VICE should have it's own 24-7 channel, like CNN for example. Do you agree?

yes i do we are looking into it.

Your journalism and especially your coverage of undercovered issues is inspiring to me. I wish I was a journalist, but I'm an international accounting major instead. Keep up the great work!


Shane, awesome show, great job... my only question would be in reference to the Chernobyl episode where you were running around the exclusion zone, shit-faced, hunting mutant bears with machine guns and a hot chick in hot pursuit....was it as much fun as it looked?

well it was a once in a lifetime experience, I love Kiev and am sorry for what is happening there right now.


As much as I like to see the fucked up/obscure shit going on in our world, can vice do more positive news stories? I feel vice news is all about who's mad at who and whos army or coalition is taking over who.

We will be better.

Hi Shane,

has there ever been a story that you have been a bit weary about covering because of the danger?

yes. too many to count.

Now that Russia has positioned itself against the West, do you thunk it would go as far to support North Korea, becoming the nation's second large ally (besides China). It seems like there's a polarization of NK vs SK & Japan, along with their respective allies. Your thoughts on this?

I fear that we are going to revert into a cold war type scenario where both hegemonic powers will cultivate allies where ever they can be found.

You guys give me faith in media. Seriously. My question is about when a journalist bought a nuclear warhead in Bulgaria. What ever happened to the bomb? Is it in some guys car still or get turned into the gov? Also what happens to the intel about these black market, very dangerous organizations? Ps its my birthday and im sick in bed, actually reading vice

He never took the bomb, so I don't know what eventually happened to it. Happy Birthday and I hope you get better.

Hi Shane, big VICE fan here...Thanks for teaching me so much about drugs and other bad ass stuff!... Love everything you guys do, especially your "Munchies" shorts on Youtube, can we expect more of these in the future? Or has it run its course?

we are going to launch a whole food vertical and we are going to call it…."Munchies" so there will be a lot more in future.

Hey Shane,

I just want to say that you have MASSIVE balls to do what you do, whether its wandering around places like North Korea or Liberia or interviewing Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, please keep up the good work and stay safe!

thanks I will try.

Hey Shane thanks for doing this AMA! What kind of exotic locations can we expect to see from VICE Season 2? Are there any episodes in particular that we should look forward to?

There are so many. Iran, Fukishima, the North Pole Syria, Papua New Guinea, India, and the good ol US of A.

How do you become successful?

you have to really really want it and not sleep a lot, or at least sleep on planes.

Hi Shane, Ive started uncovering a new drug to hit the Lima streets - A rather cheeky way of publisizing a pitch - but here goes!

haha send it to our LATAM editor Bernardo Loyola

Was there a moment from this show where you most feared for your safety? Did protocol ever break down leaving you guys up shit Creek?

Kandahar. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a compound just as we were pulling up to interview a general of the ANA.

What's one topic you've been asked to cover that you refused to cover? And why?

asked by whom?

How many watch lists do you think you and your team are on now because of the things you have dug into ?

many. I personally am on a ton.

Hi Shane, I'm just interested in what your feelings are about the success you've and the other Vice founders have achieved. I know that you've become quite personally wealthy. Does this affect the kind of work you do personally? Do you worry that because of your success it might negatively affect at going into the field? Are there ever concerns about people in the field being abducted?

there are always concerns we always plan as much as we can. It doesn't really affect my work that much right now but who knows going forward.

Can you please talk to fightland about doing a piece on the Diaz Bros. out in Sacremento. They're so enterntaing they could have their own reality show.

I think we already have no?

Shane, great appearance one Joe Rogan last night...

What I want to ask is - Do you or Vice have a public key?

Thanks and I don;t know what that is.

Is it possible to work for VICE without the use of glasses and/or tattoos? How would you feel about being branded or written off as being too linked with the 'hipster' culture that so many revile and so many embrace?

No you have to have EITHER glasses or tattoos. I don;t really care what people label us as. I just want to make good shit.

Hey Shane. Am from Pakistan and want to know what sort of thing have you planned for Pakistan for the 2nd season?

shooting a drone story there now and an imbed with the Taliban.

Hi Shane. I loved the story on on the vehicle repair depot in Afghanistan last week. Have you been contacted by the Inspector General or anyone about it?

He gave us a lot of the info we used in that piece.

When you hit up Pakistan, did you get a chance to visit Balochistan? They usually don't allow journalists in those parts, but you're a sneaky bunch.

we have some great stories from there this season. Coming soon!

Shane, you guys have grown a lot since the early days of the magazine. How did you end up working with Fareed Zakaria and other heavy hitters in international affairs? The show is some of the best international journalism I've seen on television, and I'm looking forward to watching more.

Thanks. We have been lucky to work with some of the best journalists in the business. The show has been a dream for us.

This is a bit like trying to interview a guy at a meat market. Shane which country in latín america is worth unearthing for stories?

Brazil for sure. Columbia, Argentina. Mexico actually all of them. There are stories everywhere.

Of all the things that Vice/Vice Media has achieved over the past few decades, what is the one thing you are most proud of?

staying alive in the WAR that is modern day media.

What are your thoughts on the power of the media in the western world? How do you see VICE evolving and what is the most outlandish dream that you have for it?

The power is vast and there need to be more challenger brands to help keep it in check. I hope that VICE continues to evolve in this role and my most outlandish dream is to be the first (and biggest) truly global, truly digital Media Brand.

When the nukes go off, what do you want to be doing?

drinking a 2005 Richebourg that I have stashed for the occasion.


Could you send Andy and Leo back to Swansea to find out how those folks are doing? I saw Swansea Love Story and I've been dying to know how those guys are doing since then. I love the Rule Britannia stuff. Thanks.

I will ask them, Andy is North of the North Pole right now I think.

I loved the episode you were in for F.O.B. and your talk with Charlie Rose! Any plans to extend that series or keep Eddie Huang more of a permanent fixture for Vice? I'm under the impression that he's bouncing around and testing the waters with projects for MTV and his sitcom...

I will work with Eddie on any or all of his projects. The man is a genius.

Hey Mr. Smith: Do you like Hip-Hop?!


Hi Shane. Firstly, I love vice, it's the only news channel I care to watch. How do you respond to people saying vice sacrifices the truth for a good show?

they are wrong.

ShaneSmith, how does it all end?

in tears probably.

Do you have really expensive life/health insurance because of all the traveling to crazy places?


Shane, what is the craziest, most absolutely insane/scariest thing you've ever done? Or the funnest thing? Your pick

North Korea and North Korea,

CNN seems to be going to a more "infotainment" style of journalism in the evenings. Would you be interested in working out a deal with them to become contract correspondents for them? HBO is great, but CNN has the better outreach.

We will stay with HBO we love them. We will continue to build out our NEws offerings on VICE NEWS.

Hi Shane, I really enjoy the reporting across all of Vice. I am a lecturer of general biology at a university, and I even base one of my assignments on Vice's reporting of the garbage patch(es) in the oceans. It's certainly a very raw episode, and it has always struck a nerve with me. I was wondering to what degree are there future plans for Vice reporting on environmental issues, or even science (not just tech) in the future? It seems that Vice has particularly resonant reporting with young adults, and I'd love to see science become a part of that.

we will be increasing our environmental reporting as the scale and scope of environmental degradation continues apace.

What do you think will be the outcome of the situation in crimea?

a growing polarization between Russia and the West.

What are your thoughts on the ever-increasing ability to livestream quickly and cheaply from anywhere? I love how fast VICE is to get a stream up when something is happening in the world. Just curious on where you see that going in the future and how VICE will take advantage.

This is going to change the face of news and we are excited to be there on the forefront of this new experiment in tech/on-the-ground reporting.

If you could interview any dead historical figure who would it be and why?

Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Because I want to ask them to justify killing tens of millions of people. What the fuck was going through their heads?

What do you do for fun, when you aren't traveling the world bring us the REAL news?

I like the ocean. I sail, I lie by the sea. I swim anything to do with water. Love it.

Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane Shane...... Hey


I always feel vice is surface scratching conflict porn. Hey, our reporter put themselves in a dumb situation, it must be super relevant.

then you are silly.

who on your staff really impresses you? I've been blown away by Simon Ostrovsky's reporting on the Ukrainian crisis. It is like no one ever told him that Russians are the scariest white people. That dude has balls of steel.

there are too may to list. Simon is great. Baby Balls. Fazeelat Aslam, Golareh Kiazand, all our hosts this season; Choe, Vikram Ghandi. it goes on.

Where can i get one of those Vice rings from?

you have to work for us

How did Fresh off the Boat come about with Eddie Huang?

He wrote a book and we wanted to make it a series. He is the creative force behind it and we love him and the series.


you are smoking weed out of a pipe and want us to do a story on it?

Hey Shane! I watched the first Season on the Vice News channel and I absolutely loved all of them. One of my favorites was about addiction and the story you personally covered the story about Matt and his heroin addiction and unconventional treatment

At the end you said you were skeptical at first, and is truly something see to believe. So, I have a question;

Would you consider Ibogaine a viable treatment in the future for heroin addiction and hope to see it used in the medical field for treatment for heroin users?

Also, do you still keep in contact with Matt and do you know if he's still clean?

Thanks a ton for the videos Shane and I hope you guys never stop!

He is still clean and if I was having trouble kicking I would try any and all alternatives.

Shane, my wife and I love VICE and I get all giddy when I am visiting the Brooklyn Brewery because your offices are right there! Anyways, two questions. How are you and your staff not cleaning up industry awards for your journalism? It's SO GOOD. You guys are crazy. Also, I can't stop thinking about N. Korea. Can you? Why do you think it's so captivating to so many?

Answer #1 I DONT KNOW!!! #2 its captivating because it is totally INSANE from start to finish. An anomaly in a growingly homogenized world.

Is there anything you've put out that you now regret?

sure lots. We;ve been doing this for 20 years.

I respect the hell out of you and your team, you're some of the last real journalists in the US

I like you more than a friend.

Why don't you let us watch all of your programs outside of the US anymore?

I think its a licensing issue with HBO it means that its being sold as a series in your country.

Hey Shane! I'm a bit late . Don't know if you'll read this . I just wanna say that the documentaries on the vice YouTube channel and the vice HBO show has been fueling my dream to seek excitement in the world and become a renowned journalist . I am currently planning on joining the navy as a MC (navy journalist) so I can get that excitement and learn how to be a journalist. It's my dream to come out and work for you at vice as a journalist . Just want to say thank you for helping me find what I believe to be my passion in life , and I hope to work for vice someday. Any tips on fulfilling this dream ?

get some good stories under your belt and then come see us.


I've loved the series since the VICE Guide to Travel got me hooked.

My question: Is there any particular episode that really didn't turn out the way you had expected? Either, in a disappointing kind of way, or in a completely unexpected outcome kind of way?

Sure Basketball Diplomacy was 100% a surprise.

Hey Shane, big fan here, being that you are now the largest employer in Williamsburg, why did you decide to open shop there as opposed to more well off places in NYC?

we were broke and it was cheap.

Can I also work for VICE in like 3 years after I graduate?


When Vice went to Columbia and uncovered the tradition(?) of donkey fucking, how many people in the office collectively threw up at once?

hahha I don't know. The question is how many of them went "really?" and then asked for time off.

Hey Shane, I'm a production attorney in Los Angeles. Dream gig: working at Vice helping get your amazing content made, which probably generates the best heart attacks a lawyer could have. Any pro-tips on getting in with your legal department? I'd forsake the perma-summer and subject myself to the New York bar exam for you guys.

you should contact Jon Lutsky in our head office.


What are your thoughts on the major news outlets in the US?

they should enjoy their swan song as long as it lasts.

Hi Shane, Love the Vice show. Also love listening to on the Joe Rogan podcast. Do you think VICE will ever make a feature film documentary on a certain topic?

we already have made many. Our first series was made into a feature film "Heavy Metal in Baghadad."

What kind of cars do you have

I don't drive.

Thanks for doing the AMA. I love your web content. If you can, do more content on the food/agriculture of America. I find it completely fascinating. Maybe an undercover shoot at a slaughterhouse?

Yes what is happening in the food industry is crazy.

In all seriousness, what is the best way to find out about career opportunities at Vice?

you have to apply, for all the people asking for gigs its not what I do there are tons of jobs and people should just apply and keep applying.

I first got into Vice when linked to your 3-part video on Iranian Cinema. What's a Jewish American Girl (with an Israeli stamp in her passport) gotta do to see and experience what you did in that series?

get a new passport and then get an invite to the film fest.

Sorry if this has been asked:

Many people believe that some or all of Vice's documentaries are scripted or just flat out staged/faked. In particular, people often point out the unnatural speech during interviews. Is there any truth to these accusations? Thanks.

that is the most inane thing I have heard in a long time.

Hey shane, As a guy about to head off to school for journalism do you have any tips?

start now before you "learn" how to do it.

Shane what happened with the story you said you were with the mexican drug dealers.

we have done several which exact one?

What is your relationship with Spike Jonze? How did you guys meet, etc...

He is our Creative Director and a good friend. We met years ago at Diner in Brooklyn. It was love at first sight.

Hey Shane big fan of Vice,

My question is do you regret covering any stories due to the consquences of not being allowed back certain places or anything like that?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

not really, there are still plenty of places to go.

What scared the shit out of you while filming your last episode?

the fact that we are sinking.

Any plans to do story on South Ossetia or Abkhazia regions?


This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Shane Smith conducted on Reddit on 2014-03-21. The Reddit AMA can be found here.