The Editors’ Perspective: A Global Outlook to shape the year ahead

June 28, 2024

Last week in Cannes, the World Media Group brought a group of top international journalists together to discuss the stories most likely to impact businesses, marketers and audiences around the world in the year ahead. WMG CEO Jamie Credland chaired the panel of experts, including Clarissa Ward, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Katty Kay, Special Correspondent for BBC Studios and Kenneth Cukier, The Economist’s Deputy Executive Editor.  

The conversation covered the upcoming U.S. presidential election, global geopolitical tensions, and the evolving media landscape in an age of disinformation and artificial intelligence. We highly recommend watching the full panel video below, and here you will also find our key take outs, based on the panel’s brilliant insights during the discussion.

The U.S. presidential election

The upcoming U.S. presidential election in November is a focal point, with both major parties viewing it as crucial for democracy’s future. Katty Kay pointed out that the outcome is likely to be decided by a small number of voters in six swing states – approximately 150,000 people or about two Taylor Swift concerts. These voters, who are what Kay described as ‘low information’ and may make a last-minute decision based on a ‘vibe’ rather than policy, hold disproportionate power in an increasingly polarised political environment.

Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are using similar rhetoric, framing the election as a battle for democracy. Despite the intense partisanship, many Americans remain disengaged, contrasting with high international interest in the election. Ken Cukier said  that although the two administrations have differing styles, they would both continue the protectionist trends in trade policy. He said there was a perception by the leaders of large businesses that they may get a better deal from Trump. A Trump presidency, however, might lead to more unpredictability, whereas a Biden administration would follow more procedural governance.

Global geopolitical tensions

Clarissa Ward’s recent reporting from conflict zones such as Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine provides a stark picture of the global impact of U.S. politics. There are concerns that a Trump presidency could destabilise international alliances like NATO and affect the Middle East. However Biden is feeling the strain of trying to walk the middle line in an effort to balance interests, but ending up pleasing no-one. 

She said public support to provide financial and military aid to Ukraine is waning in the US. In contrast, Putin’s sustained aggression is likely to continue for as long as he needs it to, with help from North Korea, raising fears about the long-term stability and effectiveness of international support.

The power of on-the-ground reporting

Ward emphasised the value of on-the-ground reporting explaining that direct experience and human stories are what brings depth and authenticity to news coverage, which can’t be achieved through remote reporting. While the logistical and financial challenges of on-the-ground reporting are significant, it is essential for accurate journalism.

Disinformation remains a critical challenge, with AI further complicating the landscape. Kay and Ward both underscored the importance of verifying information and maintaining transparency in reporting processes to build trust. Kay highlighted the BBC’s dedicated verification team as an example of how the industry is responding to combating misinformation.

Engaging new audiences

The panel discussed how the media’s role in engaging an increasingly fragmented audience is changing. With younger generations consuming news differently, often through social media, it is driving a more personalised and informal approach to news across alternative channels like TikTok. That said, maintaining accuracy and trust remains paramount to these organisations. 

Transparency about the journalistic processes has become important in helping to rebuild trust, and to counteract the echo chambers created by algorithms on social media. Ward said that it was incumbent on quality news outlets like the BBC, The Economist, CNN and the other World Media Group members to help people realise that when they want trusted information, these are the brands they should come to.

Under-reported trends shaping 2024

The panellists identified several underreported but significant trends likely to shape the future. Cukier warned of increased militarisation and the use of advanced technology by criminal elements, potentially challenging law enforcement and societal stability. Kay pointed to the intersection of climate change and migration, which could have profound political and social impacts. Ward highlighted the resurgence of ISIS, indicating that the group remains a significant threat, especially with the instability in regions like Syria.

As businesses navigate the complexities of global geopolitical tensions, disinformation, misinformation, and technological advancements, the need for accurate, trustworthy journalism to inform, educate and challenge our thinking, has never been more important.