The Vice News boss says he’s not distracted by Disney acquisition chatter


Josh Tyrangiel is keeping his head down and focusing on “Vice News Tonight.”

On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Vice News boss Josh Tyrangiel talked about how he’s trying to make a nightly news show for HBO that millennials will want to watch.

But Tyrangiel’s news division is just one part of Vice, the 22-year-old digital media company valued at more than $4 billion. That company’s largest investor — and the frequent subject of acquisition chatter — is the Walt Disney Company, which has put in $400 million to date.

So: With a major new project riding on his shoulders, how much does Tyrangiel think about what Disney CEO Bob Iger might do?

“It’s not a distraction for me, [and] I don’t think it’s a distraction for other people,” Tyrangiel said on the new podcast. “What happens, happens.”

He said most of Vice’s staff is much younger than him (“I’m fucking Methuselah around this joint”), so their interest would be limited, too. He compared the Vice M&A rumors to his experience as an up-and-coming editor at Time Magazine, in the late ‘90s, on the eve of the infamous AOL-Time Warner merger.

“I will tell you, I saw the worst issue of a magazine ever produced that week,” Tyrangiel said. “People were buying summer houses, they were running out the door. They’d been there a long time and they were celebrating. That’s not this. And I think while people are interested — I don’t think they’re old enough or invested enough for it to be meaningful for them, personally.”

He had a similar answer when asked about the reportedly low ratings for Vice’s cable channel Viceland, and for the reportedly volatile ratings of HBO’s other big new web-to-TV show, “Any Given Wednesday” with Bill Simmons. Tyrangiel called them “externalities” that he could easily tune out.

“Even though the media business is sometimes a fucking nightmare, you have control over what you make,” he said. “If you make something that you feel is really great, more often than not, you don’t have that much to worry about. It’s hard, because you hear lots of noise, and the media business — and the journalism business, in particular — has never been more competitive. But I think if we focus on what makes us different and smart, and we listen to people’s feedback on what we’re doing, that we’ll probably be okay.”

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

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