Me­dia Peo­ple

Catch­ing up with USA To­day’s ed­i­tor in chief Nicole Car­roll.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY KALI HAYS POR­TRAIT BY MARK MANN

Nicole Car­roll came up in jour­nal­ism dur­ing the in­dus­try’s last years un­marred by the In­ter­net, but she’s no Lud­dite.

The still new ed­i­tor in chief of USA To­day, the main news prop­erty of Gan­nett Co., brought up the no­tion of in­no­va­tion in tech­nol­ogy as an “op­por­tu­nity” when­ever pos­si­ble dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion at the New York of­fice of USA To­day, which is head­quar­tered in Vir­ginia, where Car­roll moved with her fam­ily after spend­ing nearly all of her ca­reer in Ari­zona.

A good ex­am­ple of Car­roll’s view of what tech­nol­ogy can do for jour­nal­ism is “The Wall,” a mul­ti­pronged in­ves­tiga­tive re­port re­leased last year. She led the project while still ed­i­tor in chief of The Ari­zona Repub­lic and it made use of aug­mented and vir­tual re­al­ity, short and long-form video, pod­casts, and USA’s dis­persed net­work of re­porters for a project that took a deep dive on the prospect of a phys­i­cal wall along the 2,000-mile bor­der be­tween the U.S. and Mex­ico, a cam­paign prom­ise of Pres­i­dent Trump’s.

She saw the op­por­tu­nity for an “am­bi­tious” (a word she uses freely in ref­er­ence to her­self and her work) project, along with an op­por­tu­nity to “ed­u­cate Amer­i­cans” on an is­sue that was be­ing used as a new tool in the Cul­ture Wars be­ing reignited as part of Trump’s cam­paign.

“Our job is to spread truth,” Car­roll said. “Truth” is a word that also she brings up of­ten, but truth in me­dia can be a tricky thing these days, es­pe­cially while cov­er­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion and a pres­i­dent that seem to have a pass­ing re­la­tion­ship, at best, with the con­cept.

USA was crit­i­cized this week for run­ning an op-ed by Trump that at­tacked a re­vived pro­posal to ex­pand Medi­care to all Amer­i­cans that was quickly picked apart by fact-check­ers at many publi­ca­tions. The Wash­ing­ton Post said of the piece, “Al­most ev­ery sen­tence con­tained a mis­lead­ing state­ment or a false­hood.” USA re­sponded to crit­ics by say­ing it gives op-ed con­trib­u­tors more “lee­way” but within 24 hours had posted on­line a break­down by Factcheck.org show­ing nu­mer­ous in­stances where Trump “mis­rep­re­sented the facts and made mis­lead­ing state­ments.” USA also pub­lished an op-ed from Sen. Bernie San­ders ti­tled “Trump lies about ‘Medi­care for All’ and he’s made health care worse.”

“It’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity and priv­i­lege to be in the po­si­tion that we’re in and we all take it se­ri­ously and we’re proud of the work we do ev­ery day,” Car­roll said, be­fore Trump’s op-ed was pub­lished.

She is a mat­ter- of-fact type. While per­fectly pleas­ant to be around, one gets the sense that Car­roll prefers work to idle chat­ter, even if (maybe es­pe­cially when) it’s in the name of pub­lic­ity. She doesn’t me­an­der in her speech. Anec­dotes, which peo­ple so of­ten pull out to il­lus­trate a dis­cus­sion on this or that, or just for en­ter­tain­ment’s sake, are very scarce.

As for find­ing her­self atop one of the most widely cir­cu­lated news­pa­pers in the world, and one of the few, if not the only, ma­jor news out­lets in the U.S. that’s main­tained a rep­u­ta­tion of cen­trist re­port­ing, Car­roll chalks up her suc­cess ►

to a sim­ple love of jour­nal­ism, which she can track back to mid­dle school.

“I didn’t set out to have this job,” Car­roll said. Nev­er­the­less, she re­ferred to it as “the best job in jour­nal­ism.”

WWD caught up with Car­roll about six months in to her new po­si­tion to dis­cuss the state of me­dia un­der Trump, how so­cial me­dia has in­creased op­por­tu­nity but made the job of re­port­ing more dif­fi­cult, and the most im­por­tant sto­ries, so far, of a busy news year, among other things.

WWD: I want to hear how you started. I know you were in Ari­zona for a long time.

Nicole Car­roll: I was in Ari­zona for 18 years. I started there as a break­ing news ed­i­tor and I left there as the top ed­i­tor. Be­fore that I had been at the East Val­ley Tri­bune, which is a com­pet­ing pa­per in town. Be­fore that I’d been at the El Paso Times. My first job out of school was the El Paso Times. I was a break­ing news re­porter and it was fan­tas­tic be­cause there was so much news. I think [ev­ery jour­nal­ist] should have ex­pe­ri­ence cov­er­ing break­ing news — it teaches you to be quick, it teaches you to be ac­cu­rate, you de­velop sources. All those are skills you need no mat­ter what you do [in jour­nal­ism].

WWD: So how long have you ac­tu­ally been in jour­nal­ism?

N.C.: I went to col­lege and got a jour­nal­ism de­gree and did sev­eral in­tern­ships while I was at [Ari­zona State Univer­sity]. It ac­tu­ally started be­fore that. While I was in 8th, ac­tu­ally 7th grade, in Canyon, Texas, I wanted to be on my school news­pa­per, but we didn’t have one, so I started one. It was called The Ea­gle Eye, yep, on a le­gal- sized piece of pa­per and we typed up the sto­ries. Some­body drew an il­lus­tra­tion of an ea­gle and we put it on the mast and, you know, it was like, a Q&A with the coach and lit­tle 7th grade gos­sip. But it was very well read.

WWD: I was about to ask what the cir­cu­la­tion was like.

N.C.: It was lunch­room, who­ever was in the lunch­room at the time, we handed it out, some lunchtime read­ing. So, I guess it is lit­er­ally a life­long pas­sion of mine.

WWD: Where do you think it comes from?

N.C.: I’m a cu­ri­ous per­son, I like to learn things and I like to talk to peo­ple and I like to tell sto­ries, so it was a very nat­u­ral path for me.

WWD: I mean, this is silly, but just speak­ing from my own ex­pe­ri­ence, I’m won­der­ing how you’ve done it for so long?

N.C.: You know, it changes so much. There’s al­ways some­thing new — a new chal­lenge and a new op­por­tu­nity in jour­nal­ism, be­cause our in­dus­try has changed so much, so it feels like I’ve had many ca­reers in one be­cause I’ve been able to learn so much and do so many dif­fer­ent things.

WWD: Do you con­sider your­self to have been a beat re­porter?

N.C.: Yeah, I was break­ing news, I was an ed­u­ca­tion re­porter. I did get into edit­ing pretty early though — the Tri­bune news­pa­pers hired me as an ed­u­ca­tion ed­i­tor. I do like hav­ing in­flu­ence over more sto­ries than just my own, you can spread your in­flu­ence in a wider way.

But at heart I’m a re­porter, any­one who starts as a re­porter you’re al­ways a re­porter. Even re­cently in Ari­zona, last year there was a flash flood and it killed a fam­ily of 10, it was ter­ri­ble, and I re­mem­ber I was driv­ing through the town when it hap­pened (this is when I was ed­i­tor of The Repub­lic) for my son’s base­ball tour­na­ment and I saw the text alert come over my phone and I stopped. I tracked down the fam­ily and I was our first re­porter on the scene and I was in­ter­view­ing them and video­ing them and when our re­porter came, I handed off the as­sign­ment.

WWD: Did you ever see your­self be­com­ing an ed­i­tor in chief?

N.C.: Well, I just loved jour­nal­ism and op­por­tu­ni­ties kept com­ing be­cause I was pas­sion­ate about what we do. I was al­ways very am­bi­tious, I’ve al­ways been very am­bi­tious in what we do, so I didn’t set out to have this job, but it came through dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences that I’ve had where I’ve shown that pas­sion and I’ve shown that am­bi­tion.

WWD: Do you think “The Wall” project kind of pushed it over the edge for you to get the job?

N.C.: I don’t know. I’m re­ally proud of “The Wall” project. Speak­ing of am­bi­tious work, that was some­thing I felt very strongly about, be­ing in Ari­zona. I was at a Trump rally in Ari­zona and was sur­rounded by ev­ery­one chant­ing “Build the wall! Build the wall!” Our job isn’t to tell you what to think or how to think, but I re­ally wanted to make sure that ev­ery­body who was chant­ing that and ev­ery­one who may be against it had the facts, they knew what they were talk­ing about. So we sent out more than 30 re­porters and pho­tog­ra­phers all along the South­west bor­der to ex­plain, this is the im­pact it could have, this is how it could or could not be built, here are the peo­ple who would be af­fected. Again, just so peo­ple would have in­for­ma­tion. Our goal is to ed­u­cate Amer­i­cans about the wall.

WWD: With the cur­rent cli­mate of news and ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on, do you think that kind of “Build a wall” fer­vor that Trump tapped into, it goes back way fur­ther — but how has that been for you as some­one who been in jour­nal­ism for so long, to see it go over the edge, the anti-news, anti-me­dia sentiment?

N.C.: You know, it makes me even more de­ter­mined to help peo­ple know the truth. Our job is to spread truth. And when you have this rhetoric out there about “fake news,” it just makes it more im­por­tant that we help peo­ple to know that this is true and help them know why. This is why I be­lieve we should be even more trans­par­ent, you know, here are the doc­u­ments and here’s the video and look for your­self. It’s re­ally upon us to help peo­ple find the truth.

WWD: It’s hard, though, when you have some­one like Rudy Gi­u­liani go­ing on TV say­ing “The truth isn’t the truth.” I feel like it’s al­most, I hate say­ing this, but be­yond a point where you can con­vince some­one of a fact that doesn’t jibe per­fectly with what they al­ready think is right or should be the case.

N.C.: It’s very trou­bling that many times we can­not agree on a shared set of facts. It is trou­bling. And again it’s our job in the me­dia to lead peo­ple to the truth — the facts are facts, so again, I think it’s a mat­ter of up­hold­ing our own cred­i­bil­ity. I think that’s what’s so in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant, that we main­tain the stan­dards that we have in the face of all this, so that peo­ple can be­lieve us. I think it’s im­por­tant that we’re trans­par­ent about how we gather the news, it’s im­por­tant for us to ad­mit when we make a mis­take and it’s im­por­tant for us to stand be­hind our sto­ries when they are be­ing at­tacked, be­cause we know they are true.

WWD: There does seem to be just a huge lack of un­der­stand­ing of what jour­nal­ism ac­tu­ally is and what re­port­ing ac­tu­ally en­tails. Do you think that re­porters to­day, or just news peo­ple in gen­eral, should start be­ing more pub­lic about what the job en­tails?

N.C.: I do think we need to tell our story more. Ex­plain, you know, we heard from three in­de­pen­dent sources be­fore we went with that fact, the edit­ing process be­hind a story. I think that would help. Help peo­ple un­der­stand why what we’re putting out there is cred­i­ble. I think that the other thing we need to do is just tell the story of our in­dus­try, in gen­eral. Re­cently we had those fires in Red­ding [Cal­i­for­nia], those ter­ri­ble fires, we have a news­room of 11 peo­ple in Red­ding, who, while their own homes and their own fam­i­lies were in dan­ger, they stayed in the news­room overnight to be able to cover that story. So, we did a story about that and I think that helps to say, not only is what we are say­ing true and cred­i­ble, but many times the re­porter is putting him or her­self at risk to de­liver that news. And peo­ple need to un­der­stand that…. We do have fact check­ing pro­cesses for sto­ries. We do have stan­dards for mak­ing sure we’re fair and ob­jec­tive and we just need to make sure to con­vey that as much as we can.

WWD: With USA To­day, it’s a younger pa­per, younger than a lot of the ma­jor pa­pers that are out there, so do you think that is a ben­e­fit for you to­day be­ing a lit­tle bit younger, less rooted in the past?

N.C.: USA To­day was founded on in­no­va­tion, and we were new, we were col­or­ful, suc­cinct...so I do think that’s al­ways been part of our DNA and con­tin­ues to be, like with “The Wall.” If you look at what we’re do­ing with AR and VR, we’re con­tin­u­ing to push how we tell sto­ries. And how we con­nect with au­di­ences. So I think it’s def­i­nitely a ben­e­fit that we were founded on in­no­va­tion as we con­tinue with that.

WWD: Do you think it works, projects with AR and VR, heavy video stuff? Do you think read­ers re­ally con­nect with that more than they do a print story, or are you just try­ing to talk to dif­fer­ent types of read­ers?

N.C.: We just want to make sure, again, our job is to spread the truth and we want to do that in what­ever way peo­ple want to re­ceive it. With “The Wall” we did 12 in­di­vid­ual videos that were ac­tu­ally turned into a doc­u­men­tary… but those mini docs have had more than 30 mil­lion page views on Face­book Watch.

WWD: And what was the feed­back for that — did you get any di­rect feed­back say­ing “‘You opened my mind,’ ‘ This is so great’”?

N.C.: Ab­so­lutely. I mean, peo­ple on both sides of the is­sue, which is what you want, so many peo­ple said, “You know, I may not agree with this or that,” or “I agree with this or that, but i ap­pre­ci­ate how com­pre­hen­sively you cov­ered this for us.” And speak­ing of trans­parency, I did those pod­casts with [our] re­porters be­cause I knew there could be some skep­ti­cism around the re­port­ing, just be­cause of how par­ti­san we are right now, so I wanted peo­ple to hear from the re­porters di­rectly about what they went through to get the sto­ries, what sur­prised them. I wanted them to meet the re­porters and un­der­stand again how cred­i­ble and pro­fes­sional these re­porters are and the in­for­ma­tion they were bring­ing.

WWD: Do you think there is an­other in­dus­try that takes trans­parency and be­ing cor­rect as se­ri­ously as jour­nal­ism and news?

N.C.: That’s a good ques­tion. I think there should be, we’d all be bet­ter off, you know, “The truth shall set you free,” to be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble and let peo­ple see how you do what you do.

WWD: Speak­ing of peo­ple on both sides of an is­sue, USA To­day has al­ways been more down the cen­ter. Is that hard to main­tain in these times, when maybe there are re­porters who re­ally want to say one thing or an­other or re­port on a story that just in­her­ently speaks to a bias?

N.C.: Our re­porters know that cred­i­bil­ity is the most im­por­tant thing that we have and for peo­ple to be­lieve what we re­port, they need to main­tain that cred­i­bil­ity, so we were proud that when they put those charts out that show me­dia sources, we’re gen­er­ally right in the mid­dle and that’s where we need to be. We are here to tell the facts, to tell the truth and let peo­ple make up their own mind.

WWD: Is that a con­ver­sa­tion that hap­pens in the news­rooms or the hubs, mak­ing sure sources or whomever you’re talk­ing to for a story rep­re­sents both sides?

N.C.: Ab­so­lutely. We in­vite that kind of dis­cus­sion in the news­room, that if any­one feels we’re go­ing too far one way or an­other, they speak up and say “Hey, what about…” and we take that se­ri­ously.

WWD: Go­ing for­ward, even though you’ve only been in this job a rel­a­tively short time, is there any­thing that you are par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on, either to bring more to the fore in cov­er­age or pulling back on a lit­tle or chang­ing?

N.C.: My pri­or­i­ties are in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing. We’re tripling the size of our in­ves­tiga­tive team. In­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing is our high­est call­ing, it’s our mis­sion... it also helps us build an au­di­ence and a busi­ness. Peo­ple want to subscribe to or be around in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing. We’re also ex­pand­ing the net­work. There’s USA To­day and then 109 net­work prop­er­ties [all op­er­ated by Gan­nett Co.] — we’re hir­ing re­porters in cities where we don’t have net­work prop­er­ties, so we can bet­ter do orig­i­nal re­port­ing across Amer­ica. And then in­no­va­tion, we want to con­tinue to push the way we tell sto­ries. And then ob­vi­ously right now cov­er­ing the pres­i­dency and ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on is a huge pri­or­ity. Again, just be­cause we are not bi­ased doesn’t mean we’re not go­ing to ag­gres­sively cover whomever is in power — of course we are. The pri­or­ity right now is to not only cover what’s ►

“Our job is to fo­cus on the things that im­pact real peo­ple, whether that’s their pres­i­dent, their

taxes, their health care, so that’s how we stay fo­cused, the things that im­pact our read­ers and

to hold the pow­er­ful ac­count­able.”

hap­pen­ing, but to put it in con­text that will help ex­plain things to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. There’s just so many story lines and so much news com­ing ev­ery day, I re­ally want to make sure we are a source of help­ing to ex­plain what is hap­pen­ing and put it in con­text.

WWD: I’m cu­ri­ous what you think of that sort of ag­gres­sive re­port­ing, which has al­ways been part and par­cel to jour­nal­ism and cov­er­ing any pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion, be­ing used as a tool against the me­dia? Peo­ple and pun­dits ask­ing, “Why are you be­ing so ag­gres­sive,’ as a crit­i­cism.

N.C.: That’s OK. We’re not go­ing to apol­o­gize for ag­gres­sively cov­er­ing the pres­i­dent no mat­ter what the po­lit­i­cal party, doesn’t mat­ter who is in power; it’s our job to ag­gres­sively cover that party. So, when we do get any type of feed­back of “You’re do­ing too much of this,” we just ex­plain, you know, this re­ally isn’t par­ti­san, it’s our job, to hold the pow­er­ful ac­count­able is our job.

WWD: What do you think has been the most im­por­tant story this year so far, just in gen­eral? I’m think­ing now is this even fair?

N.C.: I don’t think it’s fair...

WWD: We can go top three.

N.C.: OK, three. I’m think­ing about, ob­vi­ously, Trump con­tin­ues to be a top story. There’s a lot of peo­ple who care very deeply about the pres­i­dent and his poli­cies, so that is ob­vi­ously a top story for us. I also think im­mi­gra­tion con­tin­ues to be a top story, look­ing at what hap­pened to the chil­dren with the sit­u­a­tion at the bor­der was a flash­point, and some­thing I’m re­ally proud of our cov­er­age on.

Again, hav­ing the prop­er­ties across the coun­try, we had jour­nal­ists in Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona New Mex­ico, Texas, “boots on the ground,” able to cover that story di­rectly for us. I think the is­sue with so­cial jus­tice and racial is­sues con­tin­ues to be a big im­por­tant story for us to cover, as well.

I’m sure there’s more I could men­tion but those three come top of mind.

WWD: Is it hard within your work, day-to-day, to ad­just to the at­ten­tion span that seems to be very dif­fer­ent than it was 10 years ago? Or maybe it’s not and I’m just pro­ject­ing...

N.C.: You mean for the read­ers or the jour­nal­ists?

WWD: Read­ers.

N.C.: It’s just the world we live in. So, our job is to fo­cus on the things that im­pact real peo­ple, whether that’s their pres­i­dent, their taxes, their health care, so that’s how we stay fo­cused, the things that im­pact our read­ers and to hold the pow­er­ful ac­count­able.

WWD: Ty­ing back into your day-to­day — what is it like man­ag­ing such a large pa­per?

N.C.: We are pri­mar­ily dig­i­tal. We are a dig­i­tal news com­pany in ev­ery con­ceiv­able way — the ma­jor­ity of our au­di­ence is dig­i­tal, the ma­jor­ity of our rev­enue is dig­i­tal. So, man­ag­ing a dig­i­tal news­room is con­stantly chang­ing. You know, you have to be aware of how we’re cov­er­ing the news of the day, you have to be think­ing about the deeper more in­sight­ful en­ter­prise in the day ahead, you have to be think­ing about the plat­forms you’re us­ing, text and video and so­cial me­dia and pod­casts and newslet­ters. So you’re think­ing about how to de­liver all of that great jour­nal­ism across dif­fer­ent plat­forms. I think it’s a very ex­cit­ing time to be in a dig­i­tal news­room.

WWD: Get­ting more into in­ves­tiga­tive, is that maybe a re­ac­tion to, this is my per­cep­tion, but the in­dus­try’s hy­per­fo­cus on break­ing news and scoops, be­cause that’s what’s been get­ting the clicks?

N.C.: You know, I think peo­ple ex­pect break­ing news, so we will cover break­ing news. I want to make sure that, in ad­di­tion to that, we’re bring­ing ex­clu­sive in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing that im­pacts real peo­ple’s lives. That’s what will set us apart, that’s what will make us dis­tinc­tive and that’s our mis­sion. So, it’s a very high pri­or­ity.

WWD: Who do you con­sider to be your ri­val? Is it just ev­ery­one now?

N.C.: You know, when you’re look­ing at pure au­di­ence, last month [ July] we had 120 mil­lion uniques, so from an au­di­ence per­spec­tive, we go back and forth with CNN. When I think about from a news per­spec­tive, we are a na­tional pub­li­ca­tion, so we are com­pet­ing against The Wash­ing­ton Post, The New York Times, but we’re also right in there with the dig­i­tal brands as well. So, we have a lot of com­pe­ti­tion.

WWD: I feel that’s just the way the

“USA To­day was founded on in­no­va­tion,

and we were new, we were col­or­ful, suc­cinct...so I do think that’s al­ways been

part of our DNA and con­tin­ues to be.”

in­dus­try is now, a lot of in­dus­tries, ev­ery­one is com­pet­ing with ev­ery­one for eye­balls.

N.C.: I’m less wor­ried about that than I am our au­di­ence and grow­ing the USA To­day au­di­ence, you know what I mean? We’re not the New York Times, we’re not The Wash­ing­ton Post, we’re not The Wall Street Jour­nal, we’re not CNN. We’re USA To­day. We serve the whole of Amer­ica, we are a dig­i­tal-first com­pany, we fo­cus on in­ves­tiga­tive news and putting the news into con­text and we have this great ad­van­tage: We have 109 prop­er­ties, close to 3,000 jour­nal­ists out there, so we have re­port­ing that the oth­ers can’t touch. So I’m less wor­ried about com­pe­ti­tion, as I am grow­ing our own dis­tinc­tive au­di­ence.

WWD: Since you have so many re­porters on the ground, do you feel that, as there’s been such a crunch with lo­cal news­pa­pers, are you think­ing USA To­day is com­ing in to fill some gaps?

N.C.: We def­i­nitely have a very ro­bust re­port­ing net­work and we are fill­ing in, Bos­ton, At­lanta, Min­neapo­lis, places where we don’t have net­work prop­er­ties. So I’m not sure we’re fill­ing in [for lost news­pa­pers] but we’re def­i­nitely on a mis­sion to be­come es­sen­tial across Amer­ica.

WWD: Since you’ve been do­ing this your whole ca­reer, I’m cu­ri­ous how the shift to dig­i­tal has sort of washed over you, since it has been so marked…whether any­thing’s been lost with the in­creased pace.

N.C: I think the thing that’s changed the most is how much we know about our au­di­ences. We have so much more data. In the olden days, when I first started, you put out a pa­per and let­ters to the ed­i­tor and you know, cir­cu­la­tion, you knew cir­cu­la­tion, how many pa­pers you sold, but you didn’t know a lot more than that. Now, we know in­stantly who’s on a story, where they’re com­ing from, where they’re go­ing to next, how long they stayed on that story, how long they watch a video, how long they lis­ten to that pod­cast. We just have a lot more in­for­ma­tion about our au­di­ence. So, while that’s not go­ing to make our de­ci­sions, it’s go­ing to in­form our de­ci­sions about how we cover and how we con­vey in­for­ma­tion.

WWD: Do you miss how it was be­fore? A lit­tle slower, you could fully di­gest a news cy­cle...

N.C.: You know I love where we’re at now, I think it’s a very ex­cit­ing time. I’m pleased there’s so many more ways to bring more in­for­ma­tion to peo­ple. You can look at it like “Oh, that old way has gone away,” but you can also look at it like, “Look how many more peo­ple we’re able to reach.” There’s just so many more ways to reach peo­ple now, and for some­one who’s in the busi­ness of spread­ing truth, that’s a great place to be.

WWD: Is there any­thing about the new job that keeps you up at night, any­thing in par­tic­u­lar that wor­ries you?

N.C.: To me it’s not a worry, it’s just a chal­lenge ev­ery day. How do we reach peo­ple to­day and how to we give them the in­for­ma­tion they need to make de­ci­sions and how do we bring con­text? How do we ex­plain some­thing and how do we break news out of it? How? Ev­ery day is a chal­lenge but I don’t stay awake at night. I’m ex­cited about it.

WWD: Do you think it’s more chal­leng­ing now than it ever has been, or is it the same, but in dif­fer­ent ways?

N.C.: I think it’s more chal­leng­ing now than it has been. All the dif­fer­ent ways of pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion, all the dif­fer­ent ways peo­ple re­ceive in­for­ma­tion. But I’m not daunted by that. It’s a puz­zle.

WWD: Do you have any thoughts or con­cerns with all that’s hap­pen­ing with so­cial me­dia and the news, how they’re us­ing the news, I guess Face­book specif­i­cally, and the whole thing with points of en­try on these plat­forms for wan­ton acts of ma­nip­u­la­tion?

N.C.: I think peo­ple have to be very care­ful as so­cial me­dia users. We’re happy to use so­cial me­dia to help our au­di­ence, we’re not de­pen­dent on it, but we’ll cer­tainly use it to help reach a broader au­di­ence. We all know there’s a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia and I have three kids and I tell them all the time, “Click into that story, read it, look at the sources, where the in­for­ma­tion came from be­fore you share it.”

WWD: That gen­er­a­tion, too, so­cial me­dia is al­most like an ap­pendage, so I imag­ine it’s hard to look at your arm and think it’s bad for you.

N.C.: Yeah, right. And they fully ex­pect that the news will find them, but I’ve man­aged to raise very crit­i­cal news con­sumers.

WWD: Do you think there has been a time pre­vi­ously when there’s been so much mis­in­for­ma­tion com­pet­ing with ac­tual in­for­ma­tion so di­rectly all the time?

N.C: I don’t know, his­tor­i­cally, but I can tell you that’s ab­so­lutely hap­pen­ing right now. In a very di­rect and daily way. ■

Nicole Car­roll of USA To­day.

A re­cent edi­tion of USA To­day at a news­stand.

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