Behind the Associated Press’s decision to appoint a democracy editor: ‘This is a very crucial beat’

Behind the Associated Press’s decision to appoint a democracy editor: ‘This is a very crucial beat’

Behind the Associated Press’s decision to appoint a democracy editor: ‘This is a very crucial beat’


New York
CNN Business

Last week, the Associated Press announced the creation of an unusual new position: a democracy editor.

Tom Verdin – a veteran of more than 20 years of the AP who led the state government’s team for the past seven years – will take on the role and manage coverage of challenges in democracy, voting rights, electoral processes and related areas. While such topics are often considered the purview of political and government journalists, current threats to democracy both in the United States and abroad have demanded the attention of a dedicated editor, said AP editor-in-chief Julie Pace.

“This is really a new, but also very pivotal beat that we’re covering at the AP,” Pace told CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.

Pace pointed to stories such as the recent standoff between a provincial commission in rural New Mexico over the certification of the primary results, which were resolved Friday but sparked nationwide concerns about potential undermining of the election.

“The challenge that many news organizations face when it comes to covering democracy is that, of course, this is a national issue, a macro issue, but it’s playing out across the country in very local ways,” Pace said. “And when you consider what might have happened nationwide in New Mexico in November, in the midterm elections or in the 2024 general election, I think it could certainly provide enough fodder for a democracy editor and a democracy team. preserve. quite busy.”

The move comes as the 2022 primaries heat up and news organizations focus on what the results will mean for the direction of each of the major U.S. parties ahead of November’s midterm elections. Many media organizations, in particular, are closely monitoring the success of candidates standing with Donald Trump to see how influential the former president remains in the Republican party.

“We have an extremist wing, an extremist element, within the conservative movement that is essentially trying to take over the Republican party,” HuffPost editor-in-chief Danielle Belton told Stelter. “The press, the American people, all of us, anyone who is pro-democracy, pro-free press, pro-equality, this is what we’re up against because these are the things these people don’t want.”

“That’s why it’s so important for the press to keep beating the drum,” Belton added. “This is not the time to be shy, this is not the time to distance yourself from anything, this is not the time to just die ‘both sides’. There are no two sides to whether or not you are pro-democracy and pro-free press.”