HBO’s ‘VICE’ revitalizes the late-night news

Photo courtesy of Stephen Dixon

For those who are unaware, “VICE” is a news show produced by VICE Media on the premium cable network HBO. The show provides weekly immersive journalism, embedding reporters into world conflicts and situations in order to not only provide the viewer with news and an understanding of what is happening in the world but also entertain the viewer more than watching a normal, boring news report.

“VICE” reports are in-depth and cover interesting topics for extended periods that normal news shows only cover as a blip on the radar. To make the show better, it is best to watch the previous shows that covered the same topics as the upcoming show. For example, in the Feb. 5 season premiere, “VICE” covered Boko Haram’s activities in Nigeria and west Africa. Having watched the previous report about Boko Haram and knowing the history behind the organization, it is much easier to get immersed in what is happening now.

Even with viewer’s high expectations, the “VICE” season premiere did not disappoint. The first half of the show was a report from an embedded reporter about Boko Haram. The correspondent had been in Nigeria reporting on the terrorist group and covering the Nigerian and Chadian militaries’ joint operation to rout Boko Haram from their safe haven in northern Nigeria. In the Feb. 5 episode, Boko Haram had been run out of their havens and resorted to guerilla tactics. The report featured gruesome scenes of the aftermath of suicide bombings. It also covered the kidnappings of young girls in Nigeria and how Boko Haram extorts them into becoming suicide bombers against their will. The report was an extremely interesting coverage on a topic that most major news agencies do not think is sensational enough to touch since it does not directly affect or scare their American audiences the same way ISIS or shootings do.

The second half of the show featured some advanced technology that most people probably have never heard of and will not understand but most tech people probably already know about. The report featured a genetic enhancement technique, called clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), currently in development by scientists. CRISPR gives scientists the ability to repair or change flawed parts of DNA. The reporter took an interesting political take on the developments in genetic manipulation rather than creating a purely scientific report. She interviewed people who discussed the possible implications on the development of humanity as well as covering the investment China has made into the genetics field and the importance the Chinese government has placed on the field in its most recent “five-year plan.” The report, as most “VICE” reports are, was very in-depth as well as entertaining.

This season of “VICE” appears to be on track not to disappoint audiences awaiting reports of equal quality to the previous seasons. The first episode came out with a bang, hitting on two topics that are extremely interesting to two different types of audiences but still entertaining to both. HBO may cost extra, but with programming like “VICE,” this extra charge might be worthwhile.

Our Take: 3/5