Question #3

What makes VICE the best place to drive change? How will I use the platform to make a difference?

Before I answer your question, I need you to know that I once went viral when I wrote a story about cheese. 

During a summer internship at my hometown newspaper, I covered a cheesemaking contest. I decided to have fun with it: “Wisconsin cheesemakers found their whey Friday … they did better than gouda — they did grate.”

Unbeknownst to me, someone read my stupid puns, put them on Reddit, and my story went viral. My bad jokes were applauded. I received a marriage proposal from a stranger on Imgur. My uncle called me to say he was proud. Meanwhile, my latest story, a look at city funding for police body cameras, went largely unnoticed. 

I was both delighted and frustrated. How could I create buzz for topics that deserved more attention? I’ve spent my career trying to answer that question.

Some news organizations try to “serve the vegetables” — that is, force feed important, dense, “boring” stories alongside the lighthearted cheese-pun page turners. And I don’t entirely blame them, it’s exhausting to take in an endless stream of racism, death and brutality, especially when those evils feel constant and insurmountable. 

But VICE does better than the vegetable method. You tell heavy, important stories — and you make them taste good.

I’ve long been inspired by smart reporting from Antonia Hylton, Isobel Yeung and Dexter Thomas, who expertly pair VICE’s take-along style with heady investigations and deep dives. I watch, rewatch and study Hylton’s report on Zero Tolerance, Yeung’s brave journey through Xinjiang, Thomas’s reporting on synthetic drugs and Karen Ye’s gorgeous Chinese New Year documentary.

In every story, VICE focuses acutely on the humanity. I watched VICE’s coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings, which, compared to network coverage, featured heaping doses of emotion. Instead of simply watching the testimony, VICE viewers watched the world watch the testimony. Everything you need to know about that moment was captured in the faces of individuals as they listened to Christine Blasey Ford’s words.

And fundamentally, VICE takes its audience seriously. VICE respects young people, respects differences and respects viewers’ ability to handle tough topics. Elle Reeve didn’t flinch when she confronted Justin Wayne or Chris Cantwell. The audience doesn’t, either.

I’m a student of VICE, and I’ll continue to learn voraciously. I don’t sit still, and I don’t wait around for opportunity to find me. In fact, I’ve already started working on some stories for the 2030 project. I hope you’ll allow me to share my pitches with you soon. In the meantime, here’s a taste:

~ACTIVISM~

The moms who say prison contractors killed their sons.

We investigate a Midwestern jail with three deaths and a stack of buried health citations. 

 

 

This prison was a plantation.

We speak to the survivors of 1970s prison farms, and visit the towns that still profit off of incarcerated laborers.

The city government voted ‘no’ to surveillance software. Why is this police force using it?

We investigate the secret sale of police software.

 

~WELL-BEING~

Midwives save Black lives, but these states force them underground.

How America criminalizes this female-focused profession.

 

Inside the machines that diagnose your mental health.

Researchers hope AI will fight stigma around mental illness, but are you willing to let a tech company into your brain?

 

~WORK AND EDUCATION~

They’re on a mission to diversify tech. Their plan? Be like the orchestra. 

Software developers’ racism problem and the controversy over blind auditions.

~IDENTITY~

The TikTok algorithm helped these users come out to themselves.

How our feed gets fed by our innermost thoughts.