Old Gawker Media stories are getting new life in Spanish
Univision is moving fast.
Since agreeing to buy Gawker Media Group in August, the company has already begun to refashion the blogging empire in its image, shutting down Gawker, removing controversial posts and, on Wednesday, announcing the appointment of a new CEO.
The Spanish-language media company is also experimenting with ways to magnify the audience of the newly rechristened Gizmodo Media Group. This week, it launched La Familia Crece ("The family grows"), a new initiative focused on adapting content from Gizmodo's family of blogs for Spanish-speaking audiences.
The website, which features stories from Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Lifehacker, Jezebel and Kotaku, is an early effort that represents an attempt at figuring out how non-English speakers will react to the content, said Borja Echevarria, vice president and editor in chief of Univision Digital.
"With all of this content and the voice that Gizmodo and the brands have, we see that there's a good opportunity," Echevarria said. "That's why, from day one, when the acquisition was completed, we made two decisions."
Number one: Start sharing stories from Gizmodo Media Group on Univision's social media channels, he said. And two: Take steps to adapt its content for Spanish speakers.
It's too early yet to tell whether the initiative has been a success, but there are reasons to think it could be. Gizmodo, the company's technology blog, has an existing audience of about 5 million unique visitors in Spain and countries in Latin America, Echevarria said. Before Univision acquired Gizmodo, Gawker Media Group had a small team of journalists that adapted Gizmodo content for Spanish-speaking audiences and created entirely original work.
Univision has published some of their work on La Familia Crece. The other Spanish-language content — articles from Deadspin, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku and Lifehacker — were translated by Univision workers in Miami. The result is "more of a lab than a permanent home" for the Spanish stories, and will likely see further tinkering, said Jose Zamora, Univision's senior vice president for strategic communications.
"...In the short-term the plan is to test a range of translated content to see what resonates and then potentially invest more with original Spanish-language content down the line," he said in an email.
Univision looks at two factors when considering which pieces to adapt, Echevarria said. First: Is it evergreen? Unless the article is a noteworthy scoop, the benefit of translating a daily news story into Spanish might be relatively short-lived. Evergreen stories, by contrast, have a longer tail and justify the investment. Secondly, how has the post performed previously? Work that's already been a hit with English audiences is more likely to resonate with Spanish-speakers.
Lifehacker, with its back catalog of user-friendly explainers, is a good bet for the initiative, Echevarria said.
The work of adapting Gizmodo Media Group's editorial content is part of a broader mission to figure out how the newly acquired company fits in with Univision's existing brands, he said. This week, leaders from all of Fusion Media Group's brands — including reps from The Onion, AV Club, Clickhole, Fusion, Univision.com, Flama, Track Record and Gizmodo Media Group — met for 48 hours in Miami to help identify opportunities for collaboration and get to know one another, Echevarria said.
And the translation initiative fits into an industry-wide trend whereby news organizations create and translate stories for non-English speakers. In recent years, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Vice Media and The New York Times have all launched efforts to reach new audiences.
For the moment, Univision is primarily focused on growing its audience with Spanish speakers in the United States, but Echevarria expects its audience in Latin America will grow organically as well.
It's likely Univision will continue to adjust the experiment, too. Raju Narisetti, the new CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, will undoubtedly have some input on the program. The bottom line is to maximize the audience for content from the former Gawker properties without jeopardizing the voice that made them distinct in the first place.
"We are in a moment of experimentation, of getting data, of understanding what works with our audience," Echevarria said.
Correction: A previous version of this post said Raju Narisetti was appointed on Thursday. He was appointed on Wednesday. A previous version of this story also misspelled Jalopnik.