Pace, the 39-year-old graduate of Amherst High School – who also happens to be a former teen correspondent for The Buffalo News – was promoted last week to the No. 1 news job at the Associated Press. She is now the executive editor and senior vice president of the AP, putting her in charge of the 175-year-old organization’s global news coverage.
Early in their relationship, Julie Pace told her now-husband, Mike Ferenczy, “I want to have an adventurous life.”. That was about a decade ago, and the adventures – which were already underway then – have been stacking up since. Becoming a chief White House correspondent. Interviewing presidents. Running the Washington.
Now Pace, Ferenczy, who is a scientist, and their 3-year-old son, Will, are moving from Washington to New York City, where the AP is headquartered. From the organization’s Manhattan offices, Pace will oversee a network of journalists working in 250 bureaus spread across 100 countries.
The AP, which is 175 years old, publishes stories on its own platform and provides content to 15,000 news organizations and other subscribers around the world. It covers every major story on the planet, which last week alone included Hurricane Ida, the implications of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Supreme Court’s refusal to block a Texas law that essentially bans abortions in that state after six weeks of pregnancy and ongoing coverage of a global pandemic.
Pace joined the AP in 2007, three years after graduating from Northwestern University. And she’s taking the helm in an era of pervasive disinformation campaigns and ongoing assaults on truth.
“Julie has all the old-school reporting and journalism ethics (and) skills and is among the few who have proven they can navigate the new world we live in – full of both blessings and curses – without sacrificing fact and fairness,” said King, who, like Pace, is a former AP reporter and White House correspondent. “Just great news for the AP and journalism. A win for worker bees.
”The announcement of Pace’s promotion last week was followed by stories in the New York Times, Washington Post and, of course, the AP itself, along with a one-on-one interview over the weekend on CNN’s media show “Reliable Sources.”
“In this moment, when we are facing really powerful disinformation campaigns, when there is that real blurry line increasingly between news and opinion, I love what AP stands for, which is being a fact-based news organization that is actively trying to reach people across geographic and political divides,” Pace told The Buffalo News in a phone interview. “We think about ‘audience’ in the broadest way possible, and that’s a choice that every news organization is making right now.”
Pace added she is “not Pollyanna-ish about our ability” to get audiences – especially in the deeply divided United States – “to see things the same way. But I like having a fighting chance of putting the same set of facts in front of a wide range of people and having them be able to say, ‘OK, the AP told me some really good information.’ ” In her conversation with The News, Pace outlined some of the key philosophies and priorities that she brings to the top job. Among them:
• Build on what she calls “the sheer amount of high-level journalism we are pushing out from all over the world.” In her interview with The News and other outlets, Pace lauded the AP’s work in text, photography, video, data and fact-checking journalism. “We’re starting from this really great baseline,” she said. “We have this opportunity, then, to look ahead and figure out how we can make that news report more modern, more digitally focused, more visually compelling. But all the building blocks are there for us already.” • “Going the extra step” to explain why facts are true. “What we don’t want to be doing,” Pace said, “is saying, ‘This is a fact. Believe us.’ Because that feeds the distrust, kind of that voice on high, ‘Trust me as the mainstream media to tell you what the facts are.’ ” Instead, Pace said, “We have to show our work … and not do it with snark, and not do it by throwing shade at people who might not be inclined to believe those facts. Just doing it for purposes of information, to say to people, ‘This is a fact, and here’s all the evidence to back it up.’ ” For example, if an AP story pointed out that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, it also provided details explaining why that’s true. “We had to say the election results in all 50 states were validated by state legislatures,” Pace said. “Republican governors in key battleground states confirmed the legitimacy of the election. Donald Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, confirmed that there was no widespread fraud.”
• Helping local news. The AP is facilitating partnerships and collaborations with, and between, local news organizations, many of which are resourced-starved. Among the initiatives is a data-sharing program in which AP compiles a national set of figures – say, the allocation of money by school district from Covid-19 relief legislation – that can be written about and localized in individual markets. Another program allows AP member organizations to share stories with each other. The AP is “essentially trying to give local news organizations access to more journalism,” Pace said
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