September 10, 2020

stations at voting poll

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, members of the media reflect on the failures of past political coverage. What have journalists learned in the last four years, and why is it so crucial to get things right this time around?

On the morning of November 9, 2016, many people around the country awoke only to be blindsided by the news: Donald Trump had won the presidential election. In the fallout that followed, the media industry was forced to confront their own role in failing to predict such an outcome. Since then, some factions of the industry have tried to identify what went wrong -- the trends they missed, the narratives they overemphasized — and what they can do differently this time around.

Now the 2020 election is only two months away, and there is still work to be done to avoid the journalistic errors of the last presidential cycle and to ensure fair, accurate, and comprehensive reporting. What’s more: new and complicated factors have been added to the mix, from the global Covid-19 pandemic to widespread civil unrest.

What lessons has the press gleaned since 2016, and why is it so crucial for journalists to get things right this time around? How can they better contextualize stories about things like polling numbers and Facebook misinformation? What can journalists do to prepare the public for the likelihood that election results may take days or weeks to process after November 3? And in the event election results are contested, how can the press inform the public without inflaming tensions or heightening mistrust?

This virtual panel discussion was moderated by Michael Waldman and explored these questions and more. He was joined by political journalists Stehen Engleberg, Abby Phillip, and Amy Walter.

This event was produced in partnership with Brennan Center for Justice, ProPublica, John Brademas Center of New York University, and NYU Votes.

Stephen Engelberg headshot

Stephen Engelberg

Abby Phillip headshot

Abby Phillip

Michael Waldman headshot

Michael Waldman (moderator)

Amy Walter headshot

Amy Walker

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