When Univision bought Gawker Media, many media observers questioned whether Fusion's days were numbered.
For years, critics have touted Miami's Univision as one of the most forward-thinking and daring media organizations in America. Jorge Ramos, the network's charismatic lead anchor, has emerged as a Walter Cronkite-level character in American politics. But Fusion, the network's experiment in millennial-focused, web-driven news, has floundered for a stable identity despite huge funding initiatives and a ton of big-name hires.
Today it appears Univision has all but pulled the rug out from the flagging company, which maintains offices in New York City and Doral.
Two Miami-based Univision employees tell New Times that a wash of layoffs has hit the company today. One Univision staffer says the job cuts will be meted out over the next few days, and the Washington Post reports that between 200 and 250 employees could lose their jobs in a company-wide reshuffling.
Most media-watchers knew the gutting was coming. Over the summer, the network acquired the similarly aimed but more established
Launched in 2013 as a partnership between Univision and Disney, Fusion was pitched as a "Latin-American-focused Buzzfeed" but never quite found its footing. The site was consistently drowned out by similar websites such as Buzzfeed, Vice, and Vox. Univision also owns the satire outlet the Onion and the black-news focused site the Root.
Fusion also maintains a cable TV channel, and Variety reports Univision will replace most of its current Fusion programs with Gawker-, Onion-, and Root-based content.
A Univision spokesperson provided a nebulous statement to New Times regarding the layoffs. The company did not respond to followup questions regarding the size of the layoffs, which departments were affected, or how many Miami employees were axed:
"We operate in a fast changing and dynamic industry and we regularly make adjustments to ensure we are nimble and best positioned to continue investing in Univision’s growth. As part of a broader effort to streamline operations, we eliminated a number of positions in various areas of the Company. Over the next several months, we will be adding new positions to support strategic growth areas that will allow us to be better poised to serve our diverse audiences across platforms and meet the needs of our partners."
Though the job cuts technically will affect the entire network, it seems Fusion will likely take the most damage.
Adam Weinstein, a big-name investigative reporter whom Fusion poached from the now-extinct Gawker Media (long before Univision bought Gawker), tweeted this past Thursday that he was leaving the network.
Seems like a cruddy time for personal news, but here we are. I am leaving Fusion and looking for a change in life...— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) November 10, 2016
Anyhow, a lot of talented writers and editors are available to you today, myself included.— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) November 16, 2016
As Weinstein noted, the layoffs came just days after the company's editorial employees voted to unionize:
So strange for a media corporation to lay off so many talented writers who unionized just days ago— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) November 16, 2016
More Fusion employees reported losing their jobs as well:
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I have been laid off at @fusion due to restructuring. If you or someone you know is hiring, please let me know.— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) November 16, 2016
If you have openings and want recommendations I will be happy to talk to you about the very talented people let go from Fusion today.— Hillary Frey (@hilella) November 16, 2016
Fusion's layoffs are a true bummer for Miami's media landscape. The company lured nationally known, talented journalists to South Florida, most of whom will presumably now be drawn back into the media home bases of Washington and New York.
In recent years, Fusion has cranked out some incredible investigative journalism on a regular basis: Just this past summer, the site published a vital investigation showing that the whiteness of the nation's criminal prosecutors has led to harsh sentences for black and brown Americans.