These layoffs are a symptom of both recent and more long-term downward trends in the economy as well as the media industry. It's becoming more and more difficult for media outlets to operate as information becomes more decentralized and easier to access. Layoffs are an awful thing, but they are the only way Vice, as well as many others, can stay afloat.
Though Vice and the media at large may paint the company's layoffs as a product of the economy, in reality, it has everything to do with Vice's incompetent and greedy leadership. Shane Smith, one of Vice's founders, is essentially a conman who managed to convince investors that the media company was the future of news and entertainment. As it turns out, Smith was lying as he made money hand over fist while employees were treated like garbage. Vice's downfall was inevitable.