The teams will focus on specific coverage areas: the electorate, election security, candidate vetting, misinformation and voter access.
Here is the staff memo from Managing Editor Brian Carovillano, Deputy Managing Editor for U.S. News Noreen Gillespie and Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace:
As we continue to ramp up coverage ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, we want to tell you about five teams we are creating to support and expand the work of our core politics team.We expect all of these teams will work closely with and also help drive the unfolding impeachment story, and its impact on the campaigns, the electorate, and America’s global influence.On both of those stories, AP’s strength – and our differentiator – is our ability to combine deep beat expertise, data, and our global footprint to tell the story of this moment in time in politics. In creating these teams, our goal is to create groups that can work together, but also focus deeply on several issues where we must break news.There has perhaps never been a more critical time for AP’s well-established brand in elections coverage. At a time where media distrust is high, AP is critically needed explain the country not only what is happening, but what it means.All of these teams are at various stages of development, but we wanted to share their individual reporting assignments and the leaders for each group.
- Politics team: The day-to-day campaign coverage will continue to be overseen by U.S. Political Editor Steven Sloan, working in collaboration with Washington Deputy Bureau Chief Michael Tackett. Regional politics editor Kathleen Hennessey will be a key contact for state-driven reporting.
- The electorate: AP VoteCast data gives us a way to understand the shifting priorities, needs and attitudes of the American public like never before. Reporters from the business vertical, the U.S., the data team and enterprise team will work together to create a series of visually-driven and data-driven stories that capture how that affects the 2020 election. Kathleen Hennessey, Michael Tackett and Deputy Managing Editor for Operations David Scott will lead these efforts.
- Election security: How secure America’s voting systems are, and what influences may attempt to disrupt them, will continue to be a major area of emphasis. Led by Washington news editor Ken Guggenheim and collaborating with international investigations editor Ron Nixon, a group of reporters from the state government team, the technology team and the Washington bureau will work together to break news on how ready the U.S. is for 2020.
- Candidate vetting: Our new Washington investigative editor, Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, arrived this week and will take over the candidate vetting operation. This team will continue to work hand-in-hand with the politics team.
- Misinformation: Experts warn that misinformation may play an even greater role in the 2020 election than it did in 2016, with increases to both the volume and sophistication of so-called “fake news” appearing in voters’ social media feeds. From how candidates are battling and using misinformation on a local level to a deep look at the groups most likely to be targeted by it to the rising industry supporting it, we are putting together a team of reporters to focus exclusively on this phenomenon. Fact Check editor Karen Mahabir will lead this group.
- Voter access: How Americans vote, and the methods used to block or create obstacles for some at the polls, will also get a special focus. State government editor Tom Verdin will lead this effort, working with our state reporters and the race and ethnicity team.These teams have a challenging year ahead of them, and we are confident they are up to the task. But covering the election is not solely on their shoulders. One of AP’s assets is our reach. What you observe from your corner of the world matters. A conversation at dinner, at church, at a school meeting or on public transit could be the observation we need to launch a line of reporting. All of these leaders are open to hearing those observations – and it’s part of their charge to do so.Brian, Noreen and Julie