Vice Media’s Shane Smith to receive Knight Innovation Award on Dec. 1 at CUNY media innovation summit

NEW YORK—Oct. 24, 2014— VICE Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith will receive the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s second annual Innovation Award for bringing fresh perspectives and voices to journalism. Knight Foundation established the Knight Innovation Award last year; the award is hosted by the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and its Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

Vice Media's Shane Smith (download JPEG)

Award recipients are granted $25,000 and provided another $25,000 to give to a startup of their choice in support of innovation and entrepreneurship in news and information. Smith will accept the award on Dec. 1 at a summit on media innovation at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and announce his choice of an outstanding news and information innovator to receive the second prize.

“Shane Smith is an original thinker who makes the type of journalism that young people want to see, impactful but unburdened by the outdated processes and mindsets of legacy newsrooms," said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation program officer for journalism. "His work makes the important interesting and yields crucial lessons to push our field forward."

"The great thing about most awards is that they are designed to feed narcissism, ego and megalomania. All of which plague my psyche, not to mention infect my personal ontology. The problem with the Knight Innovation Award is that it does none of these things for it recognizes not me but the work of all the young producers, shooters, cutters and journalists at VICE News that have, out of the gates, created world class content almost from scratch,” said Smith.

“While mainstream media throws spears at us for not doing it ‘their way’ this team has forged a new, stripped down and honest way of shooting news that has resonated with our audience to the point that VICE News is now the fastest growing news platform on the web. The recognition of the Knight Innovation Award pays tribute not to me but to their great work and as such, not only humbles me but also inspires me to return the favor.”

Smith said he plans to donate his Knight award to a fund that will support the projects of young journalists. "I further pledge to match the funds with my own money so that more journalists can join the program and see if they have what it takes," Smith said. "I hope that this will allow a whole new batch of young people to join the 4th estate and continue to push forward the boundaries of journalism."

VICE’s raw, immersive reporting style and frequent focus on world affairs has attracted imitators, critics, and an expanding audience, including younger viewers who have increasingly turned away from traditional network and cable news coverage.

"Shane Smith is reinvigorating a medium in dire need of innovation. With VICE, he brings a human voice and perspective — and many new voices from around the world — to the institution of TV news,” said Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. “Most important, Smith gives respect to young people, demonstrating that they care about news and the world around him. He is a controversial choice, but controversy usually accompanies true innovation."

VICE began as a print magazine in Montreal in 1994, and is now a multimedia news and entertainment network with a leading online video site, VICE.COM, a popular YouTube channel, a television and feature film production studio and a record label. In addition to being the firm’s CEO, Smith is executive producer of Vice on HBO, which won a primetime Emmy this year.

Smith and VICE have had a profound influence on emerging visual journalists. "VICE's work is currently the gold standard for students seeking the next generation of video storytelling, a style that is raw, genuine and effective,” said Travis Fox, head of the visual journalism department at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism. “Its ability to reach a younger audience and engage them in foreign news is without equal in the industry."

About the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism

The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism was established in 2010 to help create a sustainable future for quality journalism through education, research, and incubation.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The Foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

About the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in midtown Manhattan is the only publicly supported graduate journalism school in the Northeast.  Opened in 2006 under Founding Dean Stephen B. Shepard, the School offers a 16-month Master of Arts in Journalism program that includes a required paid professional summer internship.  It was also first in the nation to offer an M.A. in Entrepreneurial Journalism, beginning in 2011. Taught by award-winning journalists from top media organizations, students learn to tell stories using print, broadcast, and interactive formats while getting rigorous instruction in reporting, writing, critical thinking, and journalism ethics. Students also specialize in one of five subject areas: arts & culture, business & economics, health & medicine, international, or urban reporting.

About Vice Media

VICE is a global youth media company and the industry leader in producing and distributing the best online video content in the world. Launched in 1994 as a punk magazine, VICE now operates out of 36 offices globally, and has expanded into a multimedia network, including the world’s premier source for original online video, VICE.COM; an international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; a magazine; a record label; and a book-publishing division.

VICE’s digital channels include VICE Sports, a sports channel; MUNCHIES, a food channel; VICE News, a dedicated news channel; Noisey, a music discovery channel; The Creators Project, dedicated to the arts and creativity; Motherboard, covering cultural happenings in technology; THUMP, focusing on global dance music and culture; and Fightland, a channel dedicated to the culture of MMA. VICE acquired British fashion publication i-D in 2012 and re-launched i-D’s digital presence at i-D.co, a video-driven fashion site. In 2013, VICE launched a news-magazine series on HBO titled VICE. The Emmy Award-winning series just completed its second season; with seasons three and four to air in 2015 and 2016.

CONTACTS:

Jeff Jarvis, director, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, jeff@buzzmachine.com

Hal Straus, general manager, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, 202-415-9458, hal.straus@journalism.cuny.edu,

Anusha Alikhan, director of communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.