Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a long profile of Fusion, the upcoming cable news channel from ABC News and Univision, as well as of Isaac Lee, Univision’s news chief. The story touches upon how the partnership came to be, and what the channel sees as is voice.
Univision and ABC reporters will be expected to repackage their stories for Fusion. “What we don’t want is the ABC correspondent standing up with a microphone here and saying, ‘Reporting from Syria [for Fusion],’ ” Lee says. “Instead, we can have someone from Syria, living in the U.S., invited as a guest to our studio. What does their family tell them? Can we have their telephone number? Let’s call them right now.”
To many journalists, this may sound like reporting on the cheap. Lee acknowledges that Fusion’s news won’t rival correspondents in the field for gathering facts: “I don’t pretend to compete with anyone in Syria, and I’m not going to send my people where I do not have an advantage.” But he promises the result will be hipper and more “human-centric.”
One clue to the channel’s sensibility is its recent hire of Billy Kimball, a former writer for The Simpsons, as chief of programming, and David Javerbaum, a former Daily Show With Jon Stewart head writer, as executive producer. Most of the content, Lee says, will be stories that would in normal circumstances not appear on Univision’s news shows at all. Lee points to David Beckham’s recent plan to build a Miami soccer team as a potential Fusion story that might consume a good chunk of a day. “Justin Bieber’s meltdown might be another,” adds Joel Kliksberg, Fusion’s director of business development, who worked with Sherwood at ABC. Lee says that for millennials, news might also include a show such as Locked Up Abroad, the National Geographic program about hapless Americans and Brits jailed overseas in roach-infested cells.