New season of ‘VICE’ will captivate your curiosity

MOVE’s resident investigative journalist says the program’s investigations will make you feel smarter.

Investigative news has never been better.

VICE, HBO’s hard-hitting investigative series, is coming back for season five on Feb. 24. VICE stands out among other news broadcasts by producing interesting, 30-minute features of relevant stories that will make any viewer feel like they have the full picture.

As a general media consumer, I’m mostly aware of what’s going on in the world. However, when I watch VICE, everything makes sense. VICE adds a component of background information to supplement the stories, which really helps connect the dots of major events.

VICE starts season five with heavy topics: the Syrian Civil War and climate change.

We follow Isobel Yeung through the war-torn streets of Aleppo, Syria. It looks the same as it has when other broadcasters reported on it — but then bullets ring in the air, and Yeung begins to run with the cameramen.

There is a certain aspect of VICE that makes the stories real to me. Yeung has to run through Aleppo’s streets and wear a bulletproof vest clearly marked “PRESS.” The question she asks most of the civilians is, “Aren’t you scared?” When another explosion sounds, I want to answer, “Yes,” but I’m not even anywhere near the danger. That’s how real these stories get.

Yeung also makes her way to Damascus, Syria, where she appears on the Sama TV network. The hosts welcome her kindly, but then Yeung goes to flip the situation. She wants to be the person asking the questions, even though they go unanswered. This was very confident of her, which is necessary as an investigative journalist.

It was also eye-opening to capture how different Syria’s media is from ours. We take it for granted that we have the First Amendment, to the point that I almost forget about it. However, not many countries have similar freedoms.

This coverage of the chaos in Syria is poignant, and it gives us a good look at what is really happening and why refugees have had to leave their homes.

VICE has also produced many climate change stories, but the one in season five specifically talks about the consequences America will face if climate change continues as it currently is. For example, Florida may lose land because of the increasing sea levels.

Shane Smith, VICE founder and CEO, takes us to Miami to talk to flood insurance agencies as well as large oil companies such as ExxonMobil.

Smith shows us the background of this story by bringing up ExxonMobil documents that show the company knew about climate change and was a part of its cause back in the 1980s. My mind was blown. This feels especially applicable because as I sit here typing this, the high was 70 degrees in late February, which is not normal for Missouri.

The climate-change piece ended on a hopeful note when Smith went to Statoil, a Norwegian-based oil company that has acknowledged the fact of climate change for some time now. They have created a way to reduce their carbon emissions when drilling for oil. This news was like the glimmer of hope I thought could save us all from burning to death once our ozone layer shrivels.

VICE covers big topics, but it’s the small details that aren’t often reported on that always surprise me. And because of that surprise factor, the information really sticks, which is what good journalism should do.

Season five of VICE premieres on HBO this Friday.

MOVE gives season five of “VICE” 5 out of 5 stars.

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