Asa Mathat for Vox Media
Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc talked about cultivating a culture of trust and respect at the youth-focused media company, following damaging reports last year in which women said they were subjected to unwanted kisses, groping, lewd remarks and propositions for sex.
Dubuc said she has drawn a hard line about the types of conduct that will not be tolerated.
“Sexual harassment is not going to be tolerated,” Dubuc said onstage Wednesday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.
Though Dubuc sought to cast much of the conduct detailed in the New York Times exposé as a vestige of the past.
“Some of what were balancing is this old Vice (and the) new Vice,” Dubuc said. “Old Vice was quite a while a go. It was quite a long time ago. That reality is lost in the narrative.”
Dubuc portrayed Vice as a youthful media organization of 3,000 people who burn to tell stories that are relevant to its audience, whose average age is 30. This, in her portrayal, is a hardworking group that cranks out some 1,500 pieces of content each week. She said there need to be recognition of what Vice Media does right — including leading all nightly news programs with nine Emmy nominations for its HBO news program, Vice News Tonight.
Culture change is possible, Dubuc said, even within a media organization where its co-founder and executive chairman, Shane Smith, once told an interviewer that he just wanted to get wasted, do coke and have sex with women in the bathroom.
“Our founder really believes in the mission to empower youth to tell stories,” said Dubuc. “At the end of the day, hes built this company and everyone who is here creating and finding their way –whether its through film, whether its through news, whether its through the agency — sees that opportunity, sees those doors that he broke down.”
Dubuc had built close ties with Vice since A+E Networks invested $250 million in the media company and she took a seat on the board.
Smith transformed Vice from a punk magazine started in Montreal in 1994 into a global company with TV network, a digital outlet, a film-production company and programs on HBO. But after the New York Times detailed mistreatment of women at the company, Smith acknowledged that he had failed to create a safe and inclusive workplace for everyone.
In stepping into the top job, Dubuc was charged with helping Vice change its culture (in the words of one media observer, move from puberty into adulthood.)
Before joining Vice, Dubuc oversaw A+E Networks; its cable networks, A&E, Lifetime, History, Lifetime Movies, FYI and Viceland; as well as digital content and distribution; A+E Studios; A+E Networks International; and A&E IndieFilms. She spearheaded the rebranding of two networks in her portfolio — Bio, which became FYI, and H2 into Viceland via the joint venture with Vice.