ABC News president Kim Godwin sat down with Recode host and Vox journalist Peter Kafka at the Collison Conference in Toronto earlier this week. Godwin stepped into the president role more than a year ago, but this was actually her first in-person interview at a public event.
Godwin provided her thoughts on disinformation and digital news at ABC, among other things.
Kafka: There are two versions of what happened in the [presidential] 2020 election. How do you feel about reaching people that are not believing what they are seeing? Can you reach them?Advertisement
Godwin: We definitely want to bring those people in. I think about that in two ways. One, we can’t cede the space to disinformation—those who are not dealing in reality … We have to show what’s true. Whether we can reach other people, we should be there and should try. I just think that in general we need to do a better job in the news media in educating people about being smart consumers of news. And I really think that it needs to start younger. As young as 10, 11, 12 years old. How to consume it, how to compare and why you shouldn’t just watch one thing … You should watch several networks, you should read several newspapers, you should have several sources of information and see how it aligns for you. And then you are better informed as an American to make decisions.
It’s no secret that television news skews on the older side. Godwin was asked how the network programs for different audiences, including younger, digital-first ones.
“The price of admission is that digital strategy. That push alert—getting to people early,” said Godwin. “And then we have people who really are in tune with the way people are consuming news. You really have to niche it out. You can’t put a TikTok on Facebook…. You have to approach it with a multi-faceted and multi-pronged approach and try to get there first.”
Godwin added, “ABC News is a strong news brand in America. So we are leveraging that brand on TikTok. [ABC News foreign correspondent] Ian Pannell who is covering the war in Ukraine right from the frontlines—in addition to the reports he’s sending back for World News Tonight and Good Morning America, he’s doing TikToks. And they’re interesting, different and customized for that audience. As journalists, we are looking at our coverage in a different way.”
Godwin was asked how/if it’s possible to lure the TikTok-first audience to ABC News’ linear or even streaming broadcasts, or if there truly is a way to make money from TikTok.
“I think there is going to be a business for us there one day (on TikTok),” said Godwin. “That’s where all the bridges are leading. Everything is getting smaller on linear, but maybe the newscasts at some point will be totally streamed, like ABC News Live. Maybe that’s where World News Tonight and GMA will eventually be. I really think we are headed that way, all the numbers show that … Maybe they meet in the middle somewhere eventually.”