Ben Leander Willgruber | Visual Design and Personal Blog

Why I stopped writing for VICE

Last year, when I started to become more and more bored of solely working in advertising, I had the idea to take my writing to a professional level. “I do it on my blog for free, so why not make money off of it”, I thought. I guess I also thought that it may help to raise my profile if ever I were to finish a book and needed help in publishing it a.k.a. convincing a publisher I am a ‘real’ writer with experience and so on and so forth. Mostly, however, I wanted to have fun doing something I enjoy and I was looking forward to diversifying my career path because having studied psychology but working in advertising wasn’t complicated enough to explain in future applications.

I applied for a freelance position at VICE which required 3 article pitches. 

It was such an easy application process. All I had to do was send them my pitches and wait for a response. I doubt anyone at VICE ever checked any of my credentials, but what do I care. I generally think it’s a good thing VICE was open to new authors from all fields but I guess this also means that they get handed quite a few of article drafts that never get published and quite a few of aspiring journalists get to know the tough side of the business early.

My pitches were accepted and resulted in two published articles. 

I was over the moon when the editor in chief told me to go ahead and work on my first two stories. The first one features one of my dear friends who is very distantly related to the ‘Butcher of Vilnius’, an Austrian SS officer (crazy, I know). In the article, I described how we went to see a movie about the trials that took place decades later where ‘the butcher’ was acquited of all charges and how my friend felt seeing this dark part of his family history.

Artboard 3

My second article was for noisey, VICE’s music platform, and covered the slowly fading clubbing and technoculture of my hometown Graz. For this article, I interviewed lots of club owners and other people organizing events. I started to realize that journalism is a tough field of work. There is a lot of research that goes into a single article and the pay is not amazing. However, seeing my work get published and even hearing friends talking about it was amazing. So far, so good.

Soon after, things between VICE and I started to go downhill. 

I had pitched another article for noisey and the editor in chief again told me that I was good to go. So, I researched and gave myself the time to write the article in a proper manner. When I was ready to submit the article, however, the whole editorial staff of VICE and noisey Austria had quit their jobs because of structural renewals. Basically, the Austrian team was diminished and now had to work under a corporate German editor in chief. I didn’t agree with the changes VICE was going under but I had already finished my article and didn’t wanna miss out on having it published, so I submit it to the new editor in chief.

Weeks went by without any notice.

When he finally got back at me, he told me that he has just been told that noisey Austria was going to be dissolved, meaning that no articles would be published anymore. I was quite angry at this situation and, after a long email exchange, asked for a cancellation fee I am waiting for until this date.

I’ve given up on the article but I haven’t given up writing. 

I don’t know if in the future I’ll ever gonna write for VICE again, but for the moment, I have no interest to do so. So, I looked for other writing opportunities and decided to apply for a freelance position at Futter, an online magazine from Graz. I was happy to hear when the editor in chief responded that she wanted to meet up the next day, and so we did. Next thing I know is I’m sending her a couple of article pitches. She went on to accept most of my pitches and my first couple of articles have already been published (I’ll link them down below).

Although I enjoy the stories VICE features, after all this drama, I am happy to have finally found a magazine I feel at home with and wanna continue working with. I just hope they don’t replace their whole staff anytime soon (fingers crossed).

xoxo2

Ben


My articles on Futter (German):

Was an der Berliner Clubkultur geil ist – und was Graz besser macht
Zu Besuch beim Grazer Queer Café
Diese großartigen Serien gehen 2019 ins Finale
Was du am internationalen Cannabis-Tag in Graz machen kannst

2 thoughts on “Why I stopped writing for VICE

  1. Congratulations to you, my blogging buddy! Perseverance makes it all worthwhile! I’m hoping that the second magazine is more cooperative than the first! Best of luck! 🙂 Naked hugs!

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