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Reuters lays out plans for 2020 election coverage

December 24, 2019

Posted by Chris Roush

Alessandra Galloni, global managing editor at Reuters, sent out the following announcement to the staff:

One of the biggest stories Reuters will cover in 2020 is the U.S. Presidential election. It is an exciting and important event for our global newsroom.

Donald Trump, the Republican president running for a second term, has changed the way politics work in the U.S. and the world over. He has also redefined the United States’ relationship with many allies and rivals – China, Israel, France, Iran, Turkey, North Korea to name a few. This is a development that our bureaus worldwide have chronicled with breadth and sophistication over the past three years.

The Democratic field is bigger and more diverse than usual. The party is split between moderates and candidates who would pull the country to the left. A Democratic victory is likely to again reset America’s relationship with the rest of the world.

And just as the United States is changing, politics and societies elsewhere are polarizing – some of them charting their own course and some no doubt influenced by the most powerful nation in the world. Hong Kong’s protests for greater autonomy from China rage on. Last week, Britain voted resoundingly for a leader who will finally lead the country out of the European Union, in a vote capping three years of political and societal strife after British voters first opted for Brexit.

All this to say that the U.S. election will be closely watched within – and without – U.S. borders.

So WHAT will we cover? Led by Soyoung Kim, our 2020 U.S. election editor, and North America Editor Kieran Murray, our coverage will be divided into five broad areas:

The Election Explained: Electing a new president in the United States is a long and complicated process. From our unique position as the world’s most global news organization, we will explain events for the world, deciphering the process and the players through interactive graphics, factboxes, explainers and newsmakers. Our Key Dates Election Calendar and our Guide to the Primaries (here and here) are two early such features.

The Big Issues: We aim to cut through the fog of spin, conjecture and tweets to focus on substantive and unbiased coverage of what matters in people’s lives.

In terms of election themes, this means the economy, immigration, climate change, the effects of the trade war with China and the upcoming U.S. Census. We will also examine the possibility that cyber-interference and disinformation campaigns could affect how people vote.

The Race: In covering the race’s main stages – the caucuses, the primaries, the conventions and election-day voting – we will mount a massive multimedia effort aimed at chronicling the moments and the people involved. This effort will include camera crews and photographers traveling with candidates; live video and interviews at rallies; and speeches around big events.

Washington and the World: We have a unique ability to showcase and interpret what decisions made in D.C. mean for the rest of the world. Since Trump levied the first tariff against China, we have focused our coverage of the global trade war on the impact on industries and people – from the change in farming habits in the U.S. to the rethinking of automotive supply chains in Asia and dietary habits in China. Our team of global journalists also have illuminated the ways that Trump’s policies have emboldened authoritarian world leaders such as Vladimir Putin, Tayyip Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman, Jair Bolsonaro and Benjamin Netanyahu while alienating traditional NATO allies. How Trump’s friends and foes engage with the White House, leading Democratic presidential candidates and the ultimate nominee, will be a key pillar of our 2020 reporting effort.

Polling: Our polling effort will stand out. It will include weekly surveys of public opinion and of battleground states; targeted surveys of top election issues and political engagement broken down by each demographic; two different polls on election day: one from the National Election Poll (NEP) that is supervised by a consortium of U.S. news organizations including Reuters, and the other in conjunction with Ipsos.

Of course, many other news organizations will have comprehensive and insightful coverage. That makes HOW we will cover the election important.

Shortly after President Trump was elected, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler laid out how Reuters would cover the new administration, namely that Reuters would follow the same Trust Principles-driven approach that governs our work in more than 200 locations around the world, including in many where the media is frequently under attack. This mission, Steve wrote, includes focusing on issues that will make a difference in the businesses and lives of our readers and viewers; not picking unnecessary fights or making the story about us; and operating with impartiality and calm integrity.

From our early world-beating coverage of the extreme vetting policies introduced by Trump, which affected hundreds of thousands around the world, to the trade war’s impact on farmers and steelworkers in the Midwest, we have stuck to this formula. It’s worth rereading Steve’s note from January 2017.

Reuters was ranked No. 1 in accuracy in an Economist study this year and tracked nearly dead center in measuring bias, showing neither left nor right-wing favoritism. Amid the polarization of politics and news, we must work hard to uphold this reputation. In covering the 2020 U.S. Election, that means providing coverage that is fair, independent, impartial and relevant – in short covering it The Reuters Way.

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