Univision and Fusion aim to build trust among Hispanics, says CEO Isaac Lee at ISOJ

What makes Univision successful within the Hispanic community?


Isaac Lee. Photo: Knight Center/ Gabriel C. Pérez.

That was the answer that Isaac Lee, president of news and digital for Univision Communications Inc. and CEO of Fusion, gave during his keynote presentation “Engaging new audiences: Hispanics and millenials” on the second day of theInternational Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ).

To make his point, Lee began his presentation Saturday by talking about the influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border during the summer of 2014. This was an immigration crisis because of the high number of unaccompanied children migrating to the U.S., with estimates of more than 70,000 children crossing the border.

“For us at Univision it was not about the elections, polls, the voter, it was about the kids,” Lee said. “For our audience at Univision this was not abstract, it was not part of a debate in Washington, it was nothing that surprises them. They were families or our audience we engaged every single day.”

It is an issue that the CEO says they are obsessed with at Univision because they consider themselves “pro-Hispanics,” a media company trying to help Hispanics improve their living conditions in the United States.

“If you white people do not understand that by improving the Hispanic community … is how you are going to improve your GDP, you are lost,” Lee said during his conversation with Jay Rosen, associate professor atNew York University and blogger PressThink.org, who chaired the discussion.

According to statistics presented by Lee, in few years Hispanics will be the majority demographic in the United States. For Univision this means that media need to increase their diversity and to be able to adapt and respond to diversity in society.

Fusion was born with that reality in mind. Fusion is a digital media outlet created in association with Disney in order to talk to a segment of the population — millenials comfortable conversing in both English and Spanish — whose information needs were not being satisfied.

According to Lee, there are four elements to approaching millenials: humor, journey, context and “cojones.” It is much easier to connect with this generation through humor, but always with a good context that helps them to understand the stories they are consuming. The journey element refers to taking them to places they cannot experience on their own.

Finally, media needs “cojones,” Lee said.

“If you are not willing to be bold, to challenge orthodoxy, you are out of the game.”

Lee also understands that to achieve diversity the media also needs to create a diverse environment, hiring people who represent different segments of society while offering good content on multiple platforms.

“If you think a group of white dudes can produce diversity, you are lost,” Lee said.

This 16th annual edition of ISOJ is being livestreamed in English here, and in Spanish here.