Fusion Media Group Announces Restructuring, Layoffs
Mass layoffs planned across Univision just days after Fusion.net voted to unionize.
Fusion Media Group is restructuring, leaving 15 Fusion.net staffers out of a job just days after the editorial staff voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
Isaac Lee, digital, entertainment and news chief at Univision, told The Washington Post that there won't be layoffs at any of the acquired Gawker properties. Sources familiar with the situation also confirmed to Folio: that there will not be any layoffs at The Onion or The Root.
This news followed an announcement by Univision, Fusion’s parent company, that 6 percent (up to 250 people) of its work force will be laid off, following a third-quarter net loss of 8.3 percent YoY.
In anticipation of a moment like this, Fusion staffers signed union cards in early October, before officially voting to organize last week. WGAE reported that 90 percent of the 70 person bargaining unit voted for the union.
While the staff is not yet under union contract, WGAE is negotiating the layoffs. Laid off employees will receive the union-negotiated severance of two weeks per year of service, including extended health benefits, with a minimum of eight weeks' pay and benefits.
A letter from WGAE told Fusion.net staffers that Univision management expects to unify all remaining staff under the Gizmodo Media Group WGAE contract that carried over from the acquisition of Gawker Media in August.
The new structure
In a memo to staff Wednesday, Lee wrote that Fusion Media Group will consolidate reporting teams across 8 of its 11 titles and unify editorial leadership to eliminate redundancies and cross-brand competition. Raju Narisetti, CEO of the Gizmodo Media Group (GMG), will lead the restructuring.
Fusion.net and TheRoot.com — currently under the Fusion Media Group banner along with The Onion — will consolidate under GMG leadership. While the publications will remain distinct, The Root editorial team will report to Fusion EIC Dodai Stewart. Donna Byrd will remain publisher of The Root.
A cross-brand, formal digital investigative team will be formed under the leadership of John Cook, and report to Keith Summer, SVP of content innovation at Univision. This investigative team will contribute content to Fusion.net, as well as any titles under the GMG banner, when relevant to its coverage.
Cook formerly served as executive editor of Gawker before becoming EIC of GMG. The company will soon search for a new editor-in-chief to lead GMG.
Real Future, the Oakland-based technology arm of Fusion.net, will merge into Gizmodo, which has a larger audience.
In addition to staff changes, all Fusion Media Group properties will switch onto the Kinja publishing platform, which was acquired with Gawker Media in August. CTO Mark Kortekaas will lead the transition, starting immediately with The Root.
Onion Inc., which includes The Onion, Clickhole, and AV Club, will remain a separate entity from GMG, though certain functions, like sales, will work across both groups. As such, Mike McAvoy, CEO of Onion Inc., will oversee the Fusion Media Group sales centralization which started last month.
Boris Gartner, president and COO of Fusion, will oversee business development projects including international expansion and syndication.
“The scale and reach of our authoritative consumer brands will allow us to be leaders within our industry counterparts and with the increasingly powerful advertising businesses of Facebook, Google, and other platforms,” Lee said in the memo.