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Newsonomics: What was once unthinkable is quickly becoming reality in the destruction of local news
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Aug. 16, 2016, 7:34 p.m.
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LINK: www.recode.net  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   August 16, 2016

Here’s a sentence few would have expected to read in 2016, if ever: Gawker Media and Fusion are now owned by the same company.

Univision has purchased Gawker Media and all of its sites and assets for $135 million, according to a report from Recode, which has since been confirmed by both sides. With the bid, Univision beat out tech publisher Ziff Davis, which had made the initial stalking-horse bid. Those were the only major bidders for the company, Bloomberg reported earlier on Tuesday. (Lifestyle site Little Things also made a late bid for Jezebel’s assets, which wasn’t up for separate sale.) Univision won’t, however, take over Gawker Media’s lawsuit with Hulk Hogan, which is still ongoing.

The news, while bittersweet, should come as some solace to Gawker’s staffers, who have struggled with the uncertainty facing the company over the past few months. But while many on Twitter were been relieved to hear Gawker has found a new home, there’s also a lot of grief about what Gawker’s exit means for the the site’s fiercely independent coverage, which might be expected to wane somewhat under the company’s new, more buttoned-up corporate ownership. And then there’s a question of how the news will affect the larger media ecosystem, in which Gawker played a significant role.

Denton himself confirmed the news, which he says is good news for Gawker’s writers:

I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership ― disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism.

Univision’s acquisition also puts to rest the speculation on what would happen to Gawker.com, whose role in the Hulk Hogan suit had turned it into something of a toxic asset. The site, for example, wasn’t mentioned in a June Ziff Davis memo expressing interest in the company. Univision, it seems, is committed to keeping the site alive.

The victory marks the latest in a string of acquisitions for Univision, which has branched beyond its origin as a Spanish-language broadcaster. Back in February it acquired a controlling stake in Onion Inc., which runs the titular satire news site as well as culture site A.V. Club and viral parody site Clickhole. Univision also owns The Root (acquired last May) and Fusion, which it launched back in 2013 and which it now owns fully after buying out Disney’s interest.

The irony here, which no shortage of people on Twitter gleefully pointed out, is that Fusion has been a periodic target of Gawker, which have poked fun at the site’s, shall we say, lukewarm reception with readers.

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