In response to a Latino Rebels open letter to the new Fusion network, CEO Isaac Lee invited us for a visit to the Newsport. True to their word, the Fusion team graciously welcomed me (an original member of the LR collective since 2011) to its Miami-based headquarters last week.
The brand-new Fusion network is a joint venture between Univision and Disney/ABC. Defining themselves as a news, pop culture and satire channel, this digital and TV network targets a young, diverse and inclusive audience.
Admittedly, my expectations were quite high since I was being greeted by the publicity team of a network with plenty of money and resources. The hosts were kind and affable. I was greeted by genuine people passionate about their work and Fusion’s mission. So many of them left their families behind in various states around the country to be a part of this team. Everyone was super friendly and each insisted they had the encouragement and support of the network to experiment and create fresh content.
I was given a VIP tour of the entire station. Yes, I was impressed by the huge converted space which looks a whole lot like the set of HBO’s “The Newsroom.” Teams from both Univision and Fusion currently share this space. The open area designed to promote teamwork is decorated with cool modern furniture. Offices had glass doors and windows, most of which were wide open. Behind the scenes I got a sneak peak of the various studios producing media content for both Univision and Fusion. Some of the studios had actual live shows going on, while some were being recorded for later use. It was thrilling to see the control room staff in action using the latest equipment and technology .
I also got to meet some of the the network’s talent, beginning with star newscaster Jorge Ramos, who hosts back-to-back shows in both English and Spanish. Then there was the ever-candid Alicia Menendez, who speaks on current issues, trends and topics from sex to politics on her nightly show. While the network cancelled the show “DNA”, I do hope to see more of Derrick Ashong.
Speaking for the rest of the Rebeldes, we would love to continue seeing Fusion implement even more diversity both in front of the camera and off but especially in positions that have impact in addition to producers and writers.
In preparation for our visit, the Latino Rebels team and community scanned through Fusion’s social media feeds to see what kind of content they were promoting and producing. While the majority was good content, there was one item in particular which didn’t make it past our radar. Quite frankly, many of us in the LR group and our community would love to see less snarky humor which comes off as hostile and stereotypical. Articles like that only perpetuate negative stereotypes. In 2014 we are well aware of the dangerous impact these images cause in real life where people of color become targets and victims.
Expectations are probably even higher now that the gap to fill the void just grew wider as news of NBC Latino’s demise made the news the last few weeks. The scales are imbalanced and the entire industry is nowhere near inclusive. Since media is extremely influential in shaping opinions of Latinos, it is extremely troubling to see so many groups of people still remain voiceless.
While expectations may be high, there are a whole lot of people rooting for you, Fusion. Thanks for your hospitality and willingness to listen.
Bella Vida Letty is a regular contributor to LatinoRebels.com and one of the Original Rebeldes, having been with the group since the very beginning. In 2012 she was named one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Social Media by VOXXI. You can follow her on Twitter (@bellavidaletty) or read more about her on her blog, Bella Vida by Letty.