Clapperboard video
Credit: Image by openDemocracy on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The number of subscribers to the Vice News YouTube Channel passed the one million mark earlier this month, and the media outlet announced plans to expand its news service to seven countries on 17 October.

But how does Vice News' video reporting style manage to pique the interest of a generation some media organisations consider disengaged with current affairs?

"The connection with the audience is extraordinarily important. The films are made by and reported by people who are also watching," said Kevin Sutcliffe, head of Vice News programming, EU.

Speaking at the premiere of Vice News film "Afghanistan: What We Are Leaving Behind" yesterday, he said the stories were told by people "who are also the audience", and the films were not "formatted like news".

"They're much more free form, and you can see reporters trying to make sense of things in the way that they normally would," he said.

"It's not professional reporters by day, people by night. These are journalists who are people going about, trying to make sense of the world."

He said the content that really spoke to Vice's audience was unmediated. "It feels raw, it feels real", and different from the three minute news packages with a "person in a North Face jacket telling you what's been going on".

Afghanistan: What We Are Leaving Behind, to be released in the next fortnight, looks at the civilians caught in the crossfire between the Afghan military and the Taliban.

Reporter Ben Anderson gained access to a Helmand Province hospital to film and interview doctors and patients. Journalists in the area were often told embedding was not an option, said Sutcliffe.

Vice News launched back in March in reaction to the interest in the "hardcore longform documentary" Vice was already producing, and its YouTube videos have been viewed over 150 million times since.

To get the necessary access to produce videos like The Islamic State, Vice makes the same safety judgements and ideas of "journalistic enterprise" as other broadcasters, said Sutcliffe.

The first part of "The Islamic State", Vice News YouTube channel

"A lot of effort goes into making connections," he said. "The filmmaker who did that [journalist Medyan Dairieh] had a 20 year history of working in that region... he was able in a long period of time to make the right connections."

"It allowed us to make a judgement that it's safe for him to go in and film. And most of all that we could get him back as well. I don't think actually we are any different from any of the major news organisations in that sense," he said.

And while Vice News covers big stories like Syria or Ukraine "in their own way", it also looks for stories in places other journalists are not present at all, to offer its audience something different.

The problem for us now is everybody's doing the Vice version.Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice News
But the video output of Vice News does not completely fall under the 'longform' label, as the media organisation has been publishing video of different lengths.

Some of the longer films like The Islamic State, which runs for just over 42 minutes, are also split into parts with millions of views each.

Vice News also publishes shorter videos, such as The Russian Roulette series of dispatches which have been watched over 33 million times so far.

Sutcliffe said the flexibility of online publishing is one of the reasons Vice has been able to produce the style of reporting characteristic of the outlet.

"The good thing about being online is you can run [video] for as long as you want to, you can run it till you get bored of it, you can run it for an hour," he said, and Vice journalists can come back with documentaries of "any length, any size, any shape".

When reporting from South Sudan for example, Vice reporters were on the same convoy as the BBC. The broadcaster produced a three minute news package, while Vice published a 20-minute film.

BBC then released a longer version of their own report, "the Vice version", said Sutcliffe, which was an interesting signal that "there was something in our approach".

"The problem for us now is everybody's doing the Vice version," he said.

Vice News plans to increase the range of reportage it offers in the next year.

"You're getting a news, current affairs, documentary service at the moment that will grow into strands, into different series," said Sutcliffe.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).