Media Execs Look Ahead to the Biggest Stories of 2020

The presidential election will be at the center of many deep-dives

an american flag with trump, biden, elizabeth warren, bernie sanders and pete buttegieg
Election coverage will be heavy in 2020. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

As publishers and consumers head into 2020, many media execs are expecting to be covering the U.S. presidential election, among many other topics. We asked top officials at publishers which story they’re expecting to be at the forefront of their brands in the new year.

Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

David Haskell, editor in chief, New York Magazine: “The 2020 presidential race will be the world’s biggest story and New York Magazine’s biggest story. It will bleed into every aspect of life and every subject we write about. And we will do everything we can to cover it aggressively and imaginatively without forgetting to notice all the other interesting stuff going on.”

Cory Haik, chief digital officer, Vice Media: “[This past year] has become synonymous with the American election, and we are of course focused on making sure our audiences, especially first-time voters, get what they need to make informed decisions ahead of the election. We’re also intent on giving new voters a platform and a voice, so expect to hear from them in creative and high-impact ways in the run-up to the election.

“The Vice Digital teams worldwide are also more dedicated than ever to covering climate change. Wherever you live, whatever your age, the transformation of our planet is real and urgent and already being felt. We’ll be taking a collaborative and global approach, bringing our audiences stories from the people and communities being harmed the most by climate change (and often those who get the least attention from the press).”

Catherine Levene, president/chief digital officer, Meredith: “With the potential for a cookie-less world and upcoming regulations in the United States around privacy, data—its value and its limitations—will be among the biggest stories in 2020.

“With current and expected changes to the most popular browsers, media companies must focus on capturing, analyzing and creating value from first-party data. First-party data will be the currency of the future. Companies that have it, protect it and create value from it, all while maintaining user privacy, will win big. But it’s not just the data that is important. It’s the predictive insights gleaned from deep consumer interaction that will separate the good from the great. This data allows for AI-driven personalization at scale for content, experiences and predictive advertising.”

Heather Dietrick, CEO, The Daily Beast: “Publishers of all sorts will be covering the basics of the 2020 election, but at The Beast we want to go deeper, focusing on exposing the disinformation campaigns that impact the candidates, and ultimately the results at the polls, and how fringe groups have begun to invade the center, which are key elements to understanding the outcome and our path there.”

Howard Mittman, CEO, Bleacher Report: “The ever-increasing interest fans have in the off-the-field lives of players has continued unabated. But on the field of play, I think the biggest stories will answer questions we thought we’d have settled in 2019: Will the Lakers go on a Championship run? Will the Giannis-Bucks relationship start to erode? Has the Warriors dynasty taken a year off, and will we see a rebirth from that team in the 2020-’21 season? Will the Durant/Irving deals prove catalytic for the Nets? Will Zion Williamson turn out to be a great player when he finally makes his NBA debut? Will Tom Brady retire—and is this Lamar’s league now … or maybe it’s Mahomes’? What I know for sure is that 2020 will be filled with storylines and opportunities to create connections for fans in all things sports-related.

“Oh, yeah, I also heard sports betting might be kind of a big deal, too.”

Nancy Barnes, svp, news, NPR: “The election. Who will be the Democratic candidate? Who will win in November? The election is the biggest story of the year.”

Tina Exarhos, chief content officer, NowThis: “The biggest story in 2020 will undoubtedly be the election and the role that young people will play in determining our next president. This past year showed us that young people have the potential to drive the conversation on the most pressing issues of the day, and NowThis will continue to focus our coverage on them and the candidates vying for their attention.”


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
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