How Fusion Is Pursuing (and Creating) a New Generation of News Junkies

Hillary Frey, global news chief, says original stories, video and Snapchat are key


Specs
Who Hillary Frey
Current gig Director of global news operations at Fusion
Previous gig Editorial director at NBCNews.com
Twitter @Hilella
Age 39

You've been at Fusion for a few months now. How's the new gig going? 
It's great. I think the opportunity is there to really experiment—you can kind of feel it every day. We are playing with lots of different ideas and trying to figure out different ways to do news and tell stories. It's a very vibrant, fun place to be right now.

Any other platforms that are intriguing Fusion for targeting millennials?
I think for us, Snapchat has been a really interesting opportunity. It's been interesting seeing what people are reacting to in there. They love video. Now some of that content that's being created for Snapchat migrates back onto the site. It's really fun to have, to not just be pushing from what we're doing, but to also be bringing that content from these other platforms back on-site to get out and mix it up a little bit.

Millennials are pretty notorious for being difficult to pin down. How do you cut through the clutter to reach them?
We are so new that I wouldn't say I have an answer to that question, but what we are seeing is that our really original stories are playing great. We need that distinct angle or just that really enterprising perspective, or angle or scoop. We can compete in that space both with reporting, but also with very strong voices and point-of-view journalism that I think will, just on its merits, find the right audience.

What was the first thing you wanted to tackle at Fusion? 
I think one of the big draws was looking at some of the work that Anna Holmes does in the [Digital] Voices section and experimenting with storytelling and putting resources behind that experimentation.

Has your previous newsroom experience helped you at Fusion, or is this a whole new ballgame?
It's definitely all very relevant. I left Adweek in 2011 and went to Yahoo, right before the 2012 election. My whole mandate there was to do the election. A lot of things that I had never done before were then directly relevant to going to NBCNews. Over time getting to Fusion, I knew that 2016 would be a big focus. So I'm very glad that I've already done one presidential election. I'm thinking a lot about what that will look like for Fusion. What it looks like with Fusion's voice. How do we be really visual about politics this year and use Instagram and Vine?

Would you say you need a millennial newsroom to do that successfully? 
Our newsroom, I joke and I don't know if I can actually say this … you would have to super fact check me, but I think I'm the third oldest person in New York. My boss is younger than me. I do think that we need to have the consumers of the content making the content.