Posted in Industry Insights

AP’s top editor: ‘Facts can be powerful’

, by Nicole Meir

During a panel at the Collision Conference in Toronto, Canada, on Wednesday, Executive Editor Julie Pace explained AP’s role in delivering the truth in a polarized media environment.

“Our approach has been two-fold,” Pace stated when asked how AP covers stories of divided attention such as the Jan. 6 committee hearings. “One, is that we try not to get obsessed with that question of ‘is this breaking through, is it getting in front of people?’’’ Instead, Pace explained, AP aims to focus on “creating a historical record.”

“The other piece of it is trying to come up with multiple ways to get information in front of people,” Pace said. She described AP’s multi-format coverage of the Jan. 6 committee hearings through traditional narrative stories, text and video explainers, takeaway pieces, Q&A’s and more.

Pace also emphasized the importance of focusing on the facts. “There are moments when adjectives aren’t always our friends. I think the facts can be powerful,” she claimed. An AP story “might be the one piece of content that someone reads or watches about these hearings, and we want to make sure they are getting information out of it.”

Executive Editor Julie Pace, center, speaks at the Collision Conference, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo)

When asked about AP’s approach to covering threats to democracy over other issues, Pace asserted that “we can do both.”

“I don’t think we can choose to not cover threats to democracy, the same way I don’t think we can choose to not cover gun violence, or the economy or any other number of issues,” she said. “Doing both does not diminish threats to democracy that are real and prevalent right now.”

Pace also described the perception of media bias when using certain language — particularly the term “lie” in reporting on false election fraud claims. Pace stated:

Sometimes we can get a little obsessed in the media about ‘is it a lie, is it a falsehood?’ and what we lose sight of is trying to explain to people what the truth is. It’s one thing to say ‘this is false’. It’s another thing to help walk people through what the truth is. And I think we probably have not done a good enough job as the media in taking people on that journey. Yes, this is a lie, but here is really what the truth is, let me explain it to you. That is the real responsibility that we have.

Pace was joined by Vox Editor-in-Chief Swati Sharma. The conversation was moderated by Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent at Yahoo! News.