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Vice Renews Call Against Blocking Keywords In News

Vice will have a new talk show with Cari Champion (left) and Jamele Hill
(Image credit: Vice)

Vice is calling on advertisers and media buyers to review the practices that prevent them from buying commercials in news programming.

At its NewFront presentation Wednesday, Vice noted that when advertisers try to make sure they’re in brand safe environments, they often put keywords on “block lists” to keep their ads away from controversial content.

Marsha Cooke, senior VP, Impact, at Vice Media Group, said that its content related to the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department and the protests about brutality against Black Americans was monetized at a rate 57% lower than other news content because brand and agencies block their ads from being adjacent to journalism about those important subjects.

It found that George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, Protest, Minneapolis and even Black people were showing up on lists of blocked words, one from an advertiser that had just put out a statement in support of Black Live Matter.

“That’s not OK,” she said. The practice is “making it difficult for us to support the most important job we have."

Vice is calling on advertisers to review the words on their blocklists and on agencies to reassess the “antiquated” practice of blocking keywords, and substituting more contextual-based solutions to better support journalism while maintaining brand safety.

(Image credit: Vice)

Last year Vice announced it wouldn’t let words including Muslim, Transgender, Refugee, and Interracial show up on blocklists.

“We got your applause but we didn’t see change. The list just got longer,” Cooke said. “How you spend your ad dollars matters.”

Vice also announced that it was launching Vice World News and would be creating hundreds of hours of international television, digital and audio news programming for audiences worldwide.

The first offerings from Vice World News now available on Vice.com’s English-language sites. More products will be launching over the coming year.

Vice TV is launching a new talk show called Disruptors with Jemele Hill and Cari Champion (working title). The two best friends and former ESPN collegues will discuss subjects from culture, politics, sports and business.

(Image credit: Vice)

It is launching The 8:46 Project, which it described as a company-wide commitment to expand coverage and reporting on systemic racism across Vice News, Vice Digital, Noisey, Munchies and Vice TV.

Looking ahead, it is also starting up The 2030 Project. The 2030 Project is a 12-month-long program that invites a group of young people from diverse backgrounds into the organization to look 10 years into the future and envision what life might look like at the beginning for the next decade.