In Scathing Exposé, Gawker Remnant Turns On Univision

Over the past several years, we‘ve chronicled Univision’s many self-inflicted struggles, which for the most part are the result of poor forecasting, haphazard management and blind servitude to a political agenda. Now comes the most scathing indictment of Univision’s mismanagement to date and, most notably, it comes from within the company.

The Gizmodo Media Group’s Special Projects Desk recently published what perhaps might be its Univision swan song, aptly titled “Univision Is A F***ing Mess” and it’s a doozy. Per their own “about” page:

The Special Projects Desk is the digital investigative unit of Gizmodo Media Group, which includes Deadspin, Splinter, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and The Root. Established in 2017, Special Projects—known internally as the Flashlight Team—is dedicated to in-depth reporting on politics, media, entertainment, and technology, with a particular focus on the presidential administration of Donald Trump.

And:

Special Projects seeks to publish true, thoroughly reported stories that bring power to account. We are especially interested in stories that other outlets and journalists shy away from for fear of disrupting access to politicians, celebrities, or business leaders. Any story that illuminates the inner workings of a major institution—a secretive startup, for example, or a prestigious Hollywood studio—will pique our interest.

By turning its focus to its corporate parent, or step-parent per the second paragraph, the Flashlight Team exposes the corruption, greed, and incompetence at Univision and in the process validates a great deal of our own analysis of the network's programming over the past few years. For example:

  • The description of Univision as an “indulgently run and suicidally structured" company.
  • Its characterization of Fusion as “one of the most spectacular digital media failures in recent memory.” We often mocked Fusion as having “tens of viewers.” We covered Fusion's final shift here.
  • Its description of the role of Isaac Lee in the company’s downturn, his treatment of Univision as his “personal fiefdom”, the elevation of his cronies (referred to here as FOILs).
  • The October 2016 “Rise Up” concert/Get Out the Vote rally along the U.S.-Mexico border, which we covered here, here, and here, is singled out as one of Isaac Lee’s indulgent “pet projects.”
  • The Univision insider’s characterization of the TV operation as “a network that airs Mexican TV shows. It’s a tube from Mexico to the U.S.”

The article also goes on at length about the hypocrisy of preaching journalistic standards while reinstating the risqué Sensación Deporte (a Univision sports section which we covered here) solely for the traffic boost and ad views.

Any enthusiasm generated over this internal truth-telling must be tempered by the fact that there is still one glaring blind spot, and that is the failure to acknowledge the direct link between the news division and the network’s woes, given its embarrassing performance during the 2016 election. The network depends on Spanish-language viewers, but actually alienates a significant chunk of them by focusing inordinately on immigration, Trump resistance, and the network’s laundry list of liberal agenda items, such as abortion, climate change and gun control, among others.

But ultimately, the article can’t escape the self-indulgence that it so powerfully criticizes. Beyond being a public airing of Univision’s dirty laundry, the piece is a plea to be rescued from the aforementioned “indulgently run and suicidally structured company” by someone with deep pockets. The Gawker remnant has now deemed itself to be too virtuous for Univision, and has turned on its rescuer. Isaac Lee’s biggest gamble has, spectacularly, exploded in his face.


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