Fusion’s immigration coverage during Trump’s first 100 days in office

An in-depth analysis of Fusion’s digital platform

Fusion was launched in October of 2013, as ABC News and Univision’s sort of love child, since both Disney and Univision possessed a 50–50 ownership of the outlet. At first, Fusion was supposed to be an outlet geared towards Latino millennials only but changed its target audience to all U.S.-born millennials from all ethnic backgrounds before premiering.

Originally based in Florida, Fusion’s multiplatform programming focuses on issues related to the economy, entertainment, music, food, immigration, pop culture, health and more. It’s TV cable channel offers a mix of comedy programming and documentary style news shows. Meanwhile, Fusion digital focuses on news and culture.

According to the Washington Post Article we read in the beginning of class, “One Nation with News for All’: Newseum looks at Ethnic media in America”, the ethnic media’s role is to serve as an interpreter, “decoding a new world and representing a new shade on the American palette”.

Fusion fits this description as it publishes stories pertaining to not only one but multiple ethnicities. Therefore, I would define Fusion as a hybrid of different ethnic outlets offering a multicultural fusion.

As the article goes on to mention, ethnic media is the most successful when the members of that ethnicity speak for themselves. As Katherine Krueger, a News Editor for Fusion mentioned, Fusion has a diverse staff able to recognize topics and stories that resonate with their communities. 60% of Fusion’s staff, as mentioned on its website is non-white.

“We use ways to find a human angle and put a face to policy stories that make those topics more real,” Krueger said. “We’ve never hidden the fact that we are a pro-immigrant outlet and that we support people of color, trans and those that are underrepresented. This election brought in how critical our vision is,” she said referring to the past presidential election.

Taking ownership of one’s own narrative, can be more accurate, as the book, “Understanding Ethnic Media,” points out. This doesn’t mean that mainstream media is unable to report on an ethnic group, the book goes on to say. Instead, it explains how by presenting their own stories, ethnic media can not only fight against negative stereotypes but maintain and strengthen their own identities.

Although Fusion’s primarily targets U.S.-born millennials, their digital space also offers Spanish versions of some of their articles. Current Spanish editors are also beginning to translate stories for their other sister sites, which according to Krueger is blowing up.

“We have Fusion in Español and that has been incredibly successful with readers in Mexico,” Krueger said.

This was an important tool the outlet used to connect to its Spanish-speaking readers during the coverage of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Throughout that period, Fusion translated many of their English stories to Spanish catering to bilingual readers in the U.S. and also keeping Mexican readers in the loop.

Their coverage of the first 100 days included the travel bans, the health care bill, updates on the building of Trump’s wall, on the U.S.-Mexico border, ICE raids and deportations. Most of these stories, per Fusion’s notorious tone, were witty, with an “irreverent writing” style, which is what they sought to follow since the beginning.

Fusion also featured underrepresented people like the stories of undocumented immigrants. For example, the co-founders of @Undocumedia were featured. The account is a popular Instagram account, co-created with cultural point of view of undocumented people living in the United States.

For Kreuger, choosing to publish editorial content that calls out officials like Sean Spicer amongst many, and represents those who are often voiceless is one of Fusion’s moral responsibility.

“To see the threat to people’s safety made us take our work even more seriously,” Kreuger said. “We all acknowledge that some of the administration’s statements are racist, anti-immigrant and to cover it any other way would not do justice to our readers.”

The response from the readers has been positive to this type of content, Kreuger said, because their readers prefer an upfront approach.

Although the content has been received well with many, for some like Cristian Aguirre, a 29-year-old optician, it’s overwhelming and upsetting.

“I’m kind of disappointed with everything that’s happening. I guess I’ve put myself in a bubble and don’t want to hear about anything because I’m just tired of hearing about Trump and all his racist, homophobic remarks. It upsets me and really pisses me off.”

Aguirre who says has heard of Fusion, prefers not to follow that outlet or any other news outlet on social media because he doesn’t have enough time. When he does have free time, he says he prefers to use social media for “brainless” entertainment that help him unwind.

“It’s not the best way to deal with it but I’m choosing to just live my life and pretend that it won’t affect me. I form my own opinion and watch enough to not stay completely out of the loop.”

Keeping young people’s interest, like Aguirre’s alive is something that Fusion is still struggling with. Since its inception, several outlets reported on Fusion’s struggle to make profit and attract their targeted audience. A year before Gawker Media was purchased by Univision, in August of 2016, the outlet published three articles within two months, pointing out how dismal Fusion’s web traffic was.

That same year, internal figures obtained by The New York Times, mentioned that Fusion’s web traffic dropped to as low as 23,000 page views on some days in late 2014. The article mentioned that Fusion traffic that past December had reached 1.9 million unique users and increased to about five million by April. However, the media measurement company Nielsen said it did not measure Fusion’s viewership on television, the New York Times reported.

Fusion’s digital media rivals include Buzzfeed and Vice, which are not necessarily ethnic or immigrant news outlets but instead are part of a new generation of media. However, mitú, another digital outlet which unlike Fusion decided to target Latino millennials specifically, has surpassed Fusion’s social media presence on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

Nevertheless, according to Krueger, when Fusion moved over to Kinja, and joined Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezabel, The Root and their other sister sites, Fusion’s readership increased.

“We definitely are expanding mainly because now we are on platforms with other sites,” Krueger said. “They have brought over more social media engagement because their audience is really engaged with online communities, even though their readers are still trying to figure out who we are.”

Most of Fusion’s web traffic as, Kruger confirmed, comes from mobile usage, specifically Facebook. The outlet does great job at offering Facebook specific videos that explain complex issues under 2–3 minutes. For example, one of their most popular videos on Facebook, which has more than 14 million views, explains the issues of having a CEO run a country, using Fusion’s notorious witty tone to explain it. The same video only received 9,461 views on YouTube, however.

In order for Fusion to be able to better connect with the new generation, Kimberly Arenas, a 21-year-old journalism major at CSUN, suggests for the oultet to have a stronger social media presence on all platforms.

“The only reason I heard about Fusion was because of Jorge Ramos,” Arenas said.

Because of her journalism background, Arenas said that she is more aware of different types of news outlets, including ethnic ones like Fusion.

“They’re videos are really cool and I especially love their documentaries because they explain complex topics in a relatable way and with cool graphics” Arenas said.

However, when comparing Fusion to other ethnic digital outlets like mitú, she says they fall short.

“I don’t see them very out there like mitú. Mitú is everywhere, they’re on Snapchat and I don’t know what they’re doing but I see their stuff going viral all the time,” Arenas said.

This is something that Aguirre agrees with. Even though, he doesn’t consider himself a “typical social media obsessed millennial”, he admits that if Fusion had a stronger presence on Instagram or YouTube, he would watch their content more.

“I’m a very visual person,” Aguirre said. “It is very hard for me to sit down and watch a long news article even if the content is good. Whereas I can play a YouTube video in the background at work and listen to it as podcast.”

Expanding its presence on outlets like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat might help Fusion better connect with Latino and African American youth. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, “Instagram’s popularity among younger adults is notable” since about half “(53%) of online adults ages 18 to 29 use the service, compared with 25% of those ages 30 to 49.”

Also, the same study confirmed that about 34% of Latino millenialls use Instagram in comparison to 21% of white millennials.

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