As voters grapple with a polarizing presidential race and media landscape, media executives are keeping watch.
“It is indeed the most important [election] for a lifetime,” said Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Monday. (Verizon Media is the parent company of Yahoo Finance.) “Bottom line, our goal is to provide our consumers with everything they need to cast an informed vote.”
Verizon Media has created a Yahoo Election hub to keep voters informed. “The hub allows users to track major events, stream live events, clarify candidates’ stances on important issues, immerse themselves into topics, and engage public opinion through polling data,” said Gowrappan.
Driving voter registration is a priority and the company also has a strategy for Election Day. “We are prepared, fully focused on ensuring the safety and integrity of the election through coordinated efforts across our organization,” said Gowrappan. “We are only a few days away, but our editorial teams will be very cautious in calling any results. We are also, of course, working with [the Associated Press] to coordinate calls for the election as well.”
Media companies are worried that an error in calling the wrong election night victor could result in violence and undermine the media industry's credibility even further.
In the unlikely scenario of election violence, Facebook announced that it will take emergency measures such as facilitating the suppression of content that it views as inflammatory and preventing it from going viral. Ads announcing false election results will be banned on the platform. Twitter said it will label or remove posts that suggest that official election results are rigged.
Gowrappan said media companies need to focus on having trusted sources, a balanced view, and doing their homework. “It’s not about getting clicks, but actually about building the trust by giving the right information for consumers.”
As to the role of Big Tech in the presidential race amid the pandemic, Gowrappan said they’re both a friend and a foe of the American people.
“Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others in many ways, they’ve helped with getting the news out there, getting people, so they’ve played the friend role in getting to consumers,” said Gowrappan. “But at the same time, when I think about small and medium businesses in that sector, a lot of them have been impacted because the power of Big Tech also impacts negatively many times some of these businesses.”
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