ACCURACY & INNOVATION: Carroll’s keynote speech stresses innovation and core values
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Posted by: Laura Sellers-Earl
By Kaitlin Lange
Ball State University
A central focus of this year’s 2016 News Leadership conference was innovation. There may be few people more qualified to talk about the topic than longtime Associated Press executive editor and senior vice president Kathleen Carroll.
During Carroll’s 14 years as the organization’s leader, the AP opened bureaus in North Korea, Mynamar and Saudi Arabia, and has won five Pulitzer Prizes. As she was leading the wire service, newsrooms were going through seismic changes, like decreased staffing and merging of media companies.
The News Leadership conference opened with a keynote from Carroll who emphasized the two features vital to journalistic success: constant innovation and constant renewal of core values.
AP has a history of innovation, which Carroll shared with the news editors. Created in 1846, The AP was the organization that got news where it needed to go and quickly – by 19th century standards anyways.
In 1864, they could send news from Europe to North America by telegraph at a rate of eight words per minute, she said.
“Unthinkable speed. Eight. Words. A. Minute,” she said, leaving long pauses in between.
In 1935, the AP started transmitting photos by wire, allowing newspapers to print photos from across the states immediately following, or in some cases during, events. In 2003, the AP created APTM to provide a live video service to customers.
Much of the news agency’s technological advances have been made possible by partnerships.
During all of the changes and the focus on technology, their mission still largely stayed the same. They have to be accurate and they have to remain credible.
“The partners’ contributions are critical to the innovation piece,” Carroll said. “But the part of the job that is ours alone to do, is holding fast to our mission, to deliver accurate, authoritative and credible news coverage…Each of us renews our fidelity to that mission thousands of times a day, with each decision we make with what to cover and how to cover it.”
With technology it’s easy to edit photos, adding something that wasn’t actually present. It’s also easy to accidently make mistakes as people want news the second it breaks.
“All the technology in the world won’t save you if a reporter mixes up facts or quotes or people,” she said.
Carroll is retiring at the end of the year.
News editors agreed with her message.
Manny Garcia, executive editor for the eastern U.S. at USA Today, said as the industry changes, accuracy, quality journalism and investigative reporting always would be a hallmark.
“At the end of the day, what you focus on is what she talked about: The importance of being accurate, and your core values don’t change,” Garcia said. “She has had a great career. She’s done great work. It really elevated The Associated Press to new heights.”