We would like to briefly correct a lie about our reporting told by Vice Media co-founder Suroosh Alvi in an interview this week.
A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story about low salaries and a pattern of kowtowing to advertisers at Vice Media. It featured salary ranges provided to us by many current and former Vice employees. NOW, a weekly magazine based in Toronto, interviewed Alvi for this week's edition. Their story contains the following passage:
VICE was recently raked by Rob Ford's favourite website, Gawker, for exploiting staff while its principals thrive.
"We knew something was coming. They talked with people who worked here five or six years ago – a time when we didn't have the resources to pay people a lot of money."
Alvi says staff now enjoy stock options and health benefits.
Alvi's assertion that "They talked with people who worked here five or six years ago—a time when we didn't have the resources to pay people a lot of money" is false. We talked to employees who worked at Vice five or six years ago, two years ago, one year ago, and employees who work at Vice now. All of their salaries were—and are—low. These facts were detailed in our story.
You will notice that both Suroosh Alvi's statement and Vice's official, expletive-laden response to our story referred to the company's basic benefits and stock options, but neither offered any data whatsoever to refute its own employees statements on the company's rock bottom salaries. When you have full time employees struggling to make $30K per year, stock options are probably not their first concern. Vice's pay for many employees was, and is, shockingly low. Of course, the company is free to pay whatever it wants. It shouldn't try to lie about it.
NOW magazine would have known that Alvi's statement was false had they read our story. In any case, they did not ask him a follow up question. NOW magazine, presumably, regrets the error.
[Photo of Suroosh Alvi and Shane Smith: Getty]