Since joining Vice Style as an intern in 2011, Jamie Clifton has risen through the ranks at a phenomenal pace, now taking the reigns as editor of Vice.com. Here in an exclusive first interview, Jamie chats about his favourite creatives, his future plans for the site, and the importance of exposing post-Brexit Britain.
Congrats on the new job! So what kind of editor do you want to be known as?
Thank you! We’re obviously at quite an alarming point in the UK at the moment – life for a lot of young people isn’t really turning out how they thought it might, and monumental decisions have been made that stand to affect our future in all sorts of negative ways. On top of that, there are really no outlets in the UK with Vice’s level of readership that represent the views of people our age when it comes to all this change. There’s a generational rift in opinion, and we’re probably the loudest voice on the millennial side. So I want to use that position to get our readers’ voices heard, and also to publish articles and videos that will help people navigate all this stuff they’ve been dropped into.
What are your plans for the future of Vice.com?
I want us to get out and immerse ourselves in the stories we cover as much as possible. There’s no point in regurgitating a news item that’s already been told in loads of slightly different ways just to get it online quickly. A Vice article needs to add some value to the story, whether that’s from going out and embedding with the people we’re covering or tackling the issue from an unusual angle. I’ll carry on commissioning and publishing stories you don’t get anywhere else – like drug testing at festivals, or our deep dive into the A1 being the UK’s sexiest road, or our documentaries about chemsex or the UK’s illegal rave scene. That’s what first got me into Vice a decade ago, and it’s something we’ve continued to be great at. I’ve also got plans for new regular features, columnists and an increased focus on the topics that mean a lot to our audience – mental health, nightlife, housing. And of course more fun stuff, like pushing all-you-can-eat places to their limit, fooling style bloggers and everything Joel Golby writes.
What’s your approach to the visual aesthetic of Vice, and do you want to change the design, art direction or photography? Who are your favourite creatives to work with?
We’ve got an amazing group of photographers and artists that we work with regularly – Chris Bethell, Marta Parszeniew, Dan Evans, Jake Lewis, Ella Strickland de Souza, Sam Taylor – and we’ll of course be continuing to work with them, because they’ve been there for years and have evolved with us, so they are essentially the Vice visual aesthetic. But I’m also looking forward to working with some new artists and designers for bigger tentpole editorial pieces and themed weeks. Our magazine editor, Bruno Bayley, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to photographers and artists, so we’ll continue to work closely with him on that. Also, some of my favourite new illustrators are people who’ve just emailed in examples of their work. It’s important to champion young talent – something Vice has always been good at – so I’m looking forward to my inbox being flooded with portfolios. Last thing: I’m always looking for an opportunity to commission Krent Able to illustrate something for us. So there will definitely be more of that.
What makes a perfect Vice story, in your opinion?
The perfect Vice story is one that delivers important information in an original, authentic way, with great access to and insight from the people that story is about. That could be our recent documentary about ecstasy; articles from our themed week Britain at Night, which was all about the destruction of British nightlife; a piece rubbishing anti-refugee memes; or accompanying activists while they pour concrete over “anti-homeless” spikes.
What can we expect in the coming months?
We have a load of content themed around the mainstream political lurch to the right since the Brexit process began. Xenophobia is becoming normalised, and the people running the country are complicit – so we’ll be looking at that a fair bit. We’ve got an incredible documentary coming out soon looking at how immigrants have been treated post-Brexit. And then we’ve also got a load of nightlife regulars lined up, so we’ll be rolling those out over the next couple of months. We’ll be working closely with Viceland our new UK TV channel which has just launched and the Vice.com production team, on some bigger cross platform projects.