Ramos calls Fusion an “experiment . . . they might not want me to tell you this, but it is.” Ramos says he’s not sure whether he’ll appear permanently on the new network or temporarily, and he expects the programming to evolve once it launches. “It’s not going to be easy,” he says, “because we don’t know how to reach that audience.”
A flood of ABC employees signed up for Spanish lessons once the deal was cemented, while Univision news bosses are scrambling to find news writers . A major problem they face, one news executive says, is that even though almost all of Univision’s news employees speak English, many do not write well enough in English to churn out scripts for the new network.
There’s also the matter of meshing the cultures of the two organizations into a cohesive whole based in studios now under construction in Miami. During an interview with Conde, an older Cuban woman in a blue smock who everyone knows simply as Martika walked into his spacious office without knocking. Martika, who is something of a legend because she occasionally appears on Univision programs, set down a “cortadito,” the luscious, ferociously strong Cuban coffee that comes in a small espresso-style cup.
Utterly unintimidated about stepping into a meeting being held by the president of the networks, she launched into a discussion of the coffee in Spanish: maybe she didn’t include enough milk, maybe there wasn’t enough sugar. And Conde patiently deferred.
When she left, Conde pondered a question about whether a visitor could get a proper cortadito at ABC headquarters. He smiled. Probably not.
A force in culture and politics
Fusion may be launching in 2013, but the only date a lot of people want to talk about is 2016. The prospect of a channel that could shape the opinions of Latinos, whose role in electing Obama was so crucial, is both tantalizing and terrifying.
“Politically, young Latinos are the holy grail,” says Carlos Odio, a former Hispanic outreach strategist in the Obama White House. “As campaigns get more micro-targeted we’re going to need better vehicles to reach the kind of Hispanics who preferred ‘Ugly Betty’ to ‘Betty, la Fea.’”
Some top Republicans are jittery about Fusion. They see Univision as leaning left. The network has beefed up its investigative news unit — producing high-profile pieces about Iranian spy networks in Latin America and the “Fast & Furious” guns scandal. But it has also stepped beyond traditional journalism in recent years to crusade for legalizing illegal immigrants and even conduct voter registration drives.