Reporters and media executives give thanks for family, the First Amendment, essential workers, and turkey

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

I asked a cross-section of leaders across the media industry, from newsrooms to Hollywood studios, to share what they are thankful for, in 2020, the toughest of years. The first person who replied, Associated Press DC bureau chief Julie Pace, took some of the words out of my mouth: “I am thankful for all of the readers who reached out this year with story ideas, thoughtful feedback and encouragement (there are more of those readers than our Twitter mentions might suggest). And particularly in 2020, I am also thankful for wine.”

Here are some of the other replies, starting with Dean Baquet, The New York Times executive editor:

“I will go personal first. I’m thankful for my family, my wife Dylan and my son Ari. I’m thankful that my brothers and their families in New Orleans have survived the pandemic and storms that visit the city. Beyond the personal, I’m thankful for the First Amendment, this year in particular.”

Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer:

“Special thanks go to all the essential workers — in particular in the healthcare and grocery industries — who’ve worked throughout this pandemic. I am also thankful 2020 is almost at end — with a workable vaccine that promises to make 2021 much, much better. At Netflix, we feel fortunate to have been able to provide people with a sense of connection and escape during this most difficult of years.”

Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content for Disney:

“I’m grateful for my many talented colleagues at ESPN, and to work alongside the exceptional leaders at Disney – all of whom are dedicated to entertaining people during this incredibly unique and challenging period.”

Kara Swisher, contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and host of the “Sway” podcast:

“I know it sounds corny, but I am thankful for my family, especially my three kids. The pandemic darkens the world, but they shine.”

Errin Haines, editor at large, The 19th:

“This Thanksgiving, I feel extremely grateful for my new newsroom, The 19th, which we started in January, and that has thrived and helped to tell some of the most important stories of the year in the middle of a pandemic, spotlighting both the majority of the American electorate — women — and centering voices that have too often gone less seen and heard in our democracy. I am also deeply thankful for my colleagues, most of whom I have not yet met in person, and for the culture we are building, focused on equity, representation and journalism that values our lived experiences as an asset and not a liability to the work we do.”

Yashar Ali, reporter and Twitter all-star:

“As difficult as this year has been for so many, I am thankful for how it’s brought me even closer to my friends. We are checking up on each other more than we would have before and feel more connected.”

Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post media columnist:

“I’m grateful for all the local journalists who have toughed out a brutal year and done such vital work for their communities, especially covering Covid. And, although I lost two close friends this year, I’m grateful that my family is doing well, especially my son and daughter. As ever, I’m grateful for editors who catch our mistakes, improve our prose, and write great headlines. You know who you are! Also, I’m thankful for the ever-changing beauty of Central Park, for the sanity-saving Down Dog app, and for the miraculous reopening of Sido, the hole-in-the-wall Lebanese joint that I depend upon.”

Susan Glasser, The New Yorker staff writer and CNN global affairs analyst:

“I am thankful for the First Amendment, our dog Ellie, and the Internet in our house, without which we would not have been able to get through the pandemic while still covering all these crises.”

Suzanne Nossel, CEO, PEN America:

“I am thankful that the deafening din of cynical ranting, sneers and denigration are beginning to fade from our airwaves, social media feeds and headspace. In its place is a quiet that can allow us once again to think, communicate, solve problems and look ahead without having to first drown out the clangor. Even better, humane, public spirited, reasoned and idealistic voices are making themselves heard not just with passionate outcry, but as leaders pointing the way. It’s like the feeling of stumbling out of a terrifying haunted house to rediscover that the sun is shining.”

Eric Bolling, anchor, Sinclair’s “America This Week:”

“Adrienne and I lost our son a few weeks before Thanksgiving, 3 years ago, so it’s a tough holiday for us. I am thankful for this: an opportunity to show support for each other regardless of our political persuasions. I hope to be able to reach across the aisle and respectfully debate and discuss politics. If that’s possible, I would be very thankful for that.”

Mehdi Hasan, Peacock host:

“On the media front, I’m thankful to Jonathan Swan and Chris Wallace for showing us in 2020 — perhaps four years too late — that it is possible to hold Donald Trump to account in a TV interview. At home, I’m thankful for a roof over my head, as we lock down in our homes, and as an evictions crisis beckons for millions of Americans.”

Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor:

“I’m thankful for the introspection and conversation that the national reckoning with racism has prompted. However painful it has been at times, the reckoning has surfaced essential and long-overdue conversations.”

Alex Salvi, One America News anchor:

“This year I’m thankful for the persistence of a diverse group of journalists in an evolving industry — those on the streets during protests, in the newsroom during difficult conversations, or their living room amid a global pandemic — that showed resilience in the face of what was perhaps the most consequential year in modern history. Also, ‘Folklore’ by Taylor Swift.”

I saved the most succinct message for last. This one is from Norah O’Donnell, the “CBS Evening News” anchor, sent on deadline for Wednesday’s broadcast: “My family’s health!”