Nexstar Media Group's The NEXT Series convenes critical voices to discuss issues related to media, content, and advertising. Coming soon: Nexstar will host symposiums throughout 2024 exploring topics such as “Sports and Social Good,” designed to address how sports and social responsibility impact brands, and “Journalism and AI,” which will examine how AI is affecting integrity in journalism and how broadcasters are protecting the validity of authentic news content and ensuring its credibility.

The series kicked off on Tuesday November 14 at The Paley Center in New York with "Growing Brands & Serving Community," a groundbreaking event about the vital interplay between media, brands, and journalism.

In collaboration with Ad Fontes Media, this inaugural symposium explored the important connection between unbiased news and influential brands, exploring a partnership that enhances brand reputation while helping create an informed citizenry. Featuring a distinguished gathering of journalists and media executives as panelists and guest speakers, this event focused on understanding the intricate relationship between media, branding, and the flow of news and information.


Chris Cuomo

Chris Cuomo announced joining NewsNation as a show host in July of 2022.

With over two decades of experience as an investigative journalist and television news anchor, Chris Cuomo has interviewed presidents and world leaders, reported from war zones, covered the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and shared hundreds of powerful, eye-opening stories impacting the lives of everyday Americans.

Mr. Cuomo most recently hosted CNN's “Cuomo Prime Time,” one of the highest-rated shows on cable news, and previously co-anchored the network's three-hour morning show, “New Day.” At ABC News, Mr. Cuomo served as chief law and justice correspondent, co-anchor of ABC's “20/20,” and news anchor for “Good Morning America.” Prior to ABC News, he was a correspondent and political policy analyst for Fox News. Mr. Cuomo began his career as an attorney, following his graduation from the Fordham School of Law.

Mr. Cuomo has received multiple Emmy Award nominations and was recognized with a News Emmy for his “Good Morning America” profile of 12-year-old poet Mattie Stepanek, making him one of the youngest correspondents to ever receive the award. He has been awarded Polk and Peabody Awards for team news coverage and his work has been recognized with a national Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news coverage, a Gerald Loeb Award for Television Deadline business reporting, and an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award for investigative news.


George Will

George Will has been a senior political contributor at NewsNation since January 2022.

He currently serves as a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post where he writes a twice-weekly column on politics, and domestic and foreign affairs. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1977, the column has been running for nearly half a century. Until 2011, he was also a regular contributing editor for Newsweek magazine, where he provided a bimonthly essay.

Additionally, nine collections of his work in Newsweek and Washington Post have been published, including in his latest book entitled, “American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020.


Cherie Grzech

Cherie Grzech oversees the network's day-to-day newsgathering and production process and supervises a staff of more than 100 reporters, producers, writers, and photojournalists. She is based in Chicago and reports directly to Michael Corn, NewsNation's President of News.

Since 2018, Grzech has served as Vice President of Fox News, responsible for managing the operations of the network's Washington, D.C., news bureau, where she developed content for eight hours of daily programming. She provided daily editorial guidance for more than a dozen teams of journalists working at the White House, Pentagon, and a variety of other federal departments and agencies, and spearheaded the Washington, D.C., bureau's coverage of the 2020 Presidential campaign.

From 2009 to 2018, Grzech was Fox News' Senior Director of Politics in Washington, D.C., serving as the network's primary editorial liaison to both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“Throughout her nearly 30-year career in broadcast journalism, Cherie has consistently demonstrated the ability to develop and execute comprehensive strategic plans for covering local, national, and international news and events,” said Corn. “She has pioneered innovative newsgathering and production techniques and forged important partnerships with new media platforms and organizations. Most important, Cherie understands that viewers are looking for fact-based journalism they can trust. She will be a great addition to the NewsNation team as we expand our programming.”

Grzech began her career in broadcast journalism as an intern and on-air reporter at WJBF-TV in Augusta, Georgia, now owned by Nexstar Media Inc.

In 1995 she supervised a staff of 35 at WILX-TV in Lansing, Michigan, and was the youngest female news director in the U.S. At local news powerhouse WRAL-TV in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, she served as Assistant News Director and helped advance all of Capitol Broadcasting businesses with programs built on stretched growth and cross-training. She won an Edward R. Murrow regional award for excellence at KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, where she was Managing Editor and oversaw a staff of 85.

“There is a tremendous opportunity in the media landscape right now to talk to Americans who just want the news,” said Grzech. “Nexstar's reach is unmatched, and I look forward to working with the skilled journalists across the country to capture and deliver stories that people can trust. I am excited to join the NewsNation team and return to the American heartland, my home, the Midwest.”

Grzech graduated from Michigan State University, earning her Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Political Science. She received her Master's degree in Journalism/New Media from American University.


Rod Carter

Rod Carter joined CBS 17 News as a weeknight evening anchor after spending about two decades at WFLA in Tampa, Florida. Rod is a proud graduate of Florida A∓M University in Tallahassee.

He is a life member of the FAMU National Alumni Association.

He coaches and guides upcoming journalists as a mentor.

For years he has been the lead teacher for the NABJ-FAMU Journalism Short Course, instructing students in broadcast during an intensive weekend course.

Rod was a Fall 2021 adjunct professor of communications at St. Augustine's University in Raleigh.

Rod was awarded the Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA) Hall of Fame Award from the University of South Florida, Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications.

He is past Region III Director for the National Association of Black Journalists, as well as a past president of the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists. He's currently a member of the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of the NAB and is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Outside journalism, Rod is a proud Life Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. He is currently the International Director of Publicity for the fraternity. He is also the past 2nd Vice President and a charter member of the Sigma Xi Sigma chapter in Tampa. Since relocating to Raleigh, he has joined the Eta Sigma Chapter of the fraternity where he is part of the communications team.

Rod is also a member of the NAACP.

Rod is very active in the community, serving now or in the past, on several boards:

  • Triangle Rising Stars at DPAC Judge
  • Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association in NC
  • The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (past Board Member)
  • Gentleman's Quest mentoring program Advisory Board (Chairman)
  • Board of Visitors, FAMU School of Journalism
  • Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition Board
  • Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award Selection Board (past)
  • Hillsborough Community College Digital, TV and Media Production Advisory Board

John Battelle

John Battelle is a Senior Fellow at the Burnes Center for Social Change and a Professor of Practice of Northeastern's College of Arts, Media and Design. He is also an entrepreneur, journalist, professor and author who has founded or co-founded seven media and technology businesses. He most recently was the co-founder and CEO of Recount Media Inc., a NY-based media platform, and is chair of the board of directors of Sovrn Holdings, a programmatic publishing services platform. He is also a Director of LiveRamp, a NYSE-listed data services business. He has held teaching positions at the School for International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, The Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, and joined Northeastern University in Fall 2023.

Battelle sits on several non-profit boards and is an active angel investor. He previously was a founder of NewCo Platform, Federated Media, Web2Summit, the Industry Standard, and Wired magazine. In 2005, Battelle wrote the internationally best selling “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture” (Penguin/Portfolio), and is working on a forthcoming book on the role of data in society. Battelle holds a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and a Master's degree in Journalism from UC Berkeley.


Lou Paskalis

Lou Paskalis is Chief Strategy Officer of Ad Fontes Media a Public Benefit company that is dedicated to restoring advertisers' investments in reaching audiences in quality news journalism with a unique technology that allows them to measure, mitigate and monitor bias and reliability in a manner consistent with their values and principles. Previously, he was President and COO of MMA Global, a trade association focused on architecting the future of marketing. In that role, he was responsible for driving innovation and change across a broad portfolio of functional areas, initiatives and forward-looking activities centered on shaping the future of marketing. He has three decades of client-side leadership experience, having led Global Communications Planning, Media Investment, Marketing Data Strategy and Brand Safety and Suitability at Bank of America; Media, Content and Mobile Marketing at American Express and many related roles at E. ∓ J. Gallo prior to that. He is well-known as an outspoken champion for marketing innovation, governance and the advancement of the art and science of marketing as well as a strong advocate for journalism and marketers' unique responsibility to support news organizations in their valiant efforts to defend truth.


Bob Cusack

Bob Cusack has been reporting on policy and politics in the nation's capital since 1995. He joined The Hill as Business and Lobbying editor in 2003 and became the newspaper's managing editor a year later. He became the editor in chief in 2014.

Cusack has won five awards from the National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative articles on a range of issues, including national security, healthcare and 2008 presidential politics surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

Cusack regularly appears on MSNBC, Fox, ABC and CNN as a political analyst.

Before joining The Hill, Cusack was a chief editor at Inside Washington Publishers.

A native of New York City, Cusack received his B.A. in journalism from Loyola College in Maryland. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has appeared in commercials, television shows and feature films.


Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala is an author, speaker, teacher, and advisor with four decades of experience specializing in helping people, organizations and teams re-invent themselves to remain relevant in changing times. He specializes in unleashing talent and turbo-charging productivity by delivering perspectives, points of view, provocations and plans of action but no PowerPoints!

Rishad's best-selling book “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” was published globally by HarperCollins and focusses on helping people think, feel, and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves in transformative times. The Economist Magazine called it perhaps the best recent book on stakeholder capitalism and Strategy Magazine named it among the five best business books and the marketing book of the year. Rishad's weekly thought-letter, “The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past” is read by over 30,000 leaders every week across industries and around the world. Rishad is currently working on his next book to be published globally by HarperCollins in 2024 tentatively titled “Re-Thinking Work” which will help leaders and companies adapt to the coming new world of work which is far more than the challenges of remote but will include demographic changes, AI and much more. Rishad is also the host of “What Next?” a podcast where he speaks with a range of leaders across business, technology, academia, and the arts on how to make sense of the cultural, social, and business changes transforming us all.

Rishad speaks on change, future trends and transforming work forces to a range of industries from platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Snap, Tik-Tok), to technology (Akamai, Juniper Networks, Intuit) media ( NY Times, Conde Nast, Univision, Paramount, NBCU), to blue chip firms ( Walmart, Procter and Gamble, H∓R Block, Bayer, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive) to Financial Firms ( Zurich Financial, Bank of America, Citibank) to Industry Associations (Blue Cross Blue Shield, Illinois Department of Tourism, US Olympics, Radio Advertising Bureau, Outdoor Advertising Association).

Rishad's advisory clients include global firms such as Publicis Groupe and many executives at Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, private equity organizations such as Growth Catalyst Partners, Venture Capital firms such as Abundant Ventures and Greycroft, and technology platforms including Firework, Quilt, Shift Paradigm, Journey, Qualsights and Dumbstruck.

Rishad spent nearly four decades at Publicis Groupe a 100,000-employee firm comprising companies like Epsilon, Sapient, Digitas, Leo Burnett, Saatchi and Saatchi, Starcom and Zenith dedicated to delivering marketing and business transformation. Before Rishad stopped being a full-time employee with Publicis Groupe (where he remains active as a Senior Advisor) he was Publicis Groupe's Global Chief Strategist and Growth Officer and served on its Management Committee.

Rishad has also been the Chairman of Digitas and Razorfish, two of the largest marketing transformation agencies in the world with over 11000 employees.

Over his 40-year career Tobaccowala has worked across almost every area of marketing and strategy including brand advertising, media, database, direct and interactive marketing. As a pioneer in digital marketing, Tobaccowala helped create one of the first interactive groups and digital agencies 25 years ago and has helped launch a series of initiatives over the years from groups focused on gaming, social, mobile and search engine marketing. Starcom IP, Play, Giant Step, SMG Search and Denuo are some of the brands Tobaccowala helped incubate.

Tobaccowala was named by BusinessWeek as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation and TIME magazine dubbed him one of five “Marketing Innovators. He is the Ad Age Interactive Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement silver medal award from the Chicago Ad Federation, an Inspire Award for motivating and building talent from the Advertising Education Foundation and the Association of National Advertisers and was named an Advertising Legend by the Advertising Club of New York.

Rishad is also is chairman of The Tobaccowala Foundation, which helps over 10,000 people gain better access to health and education in India.

Tobaccowala holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Bombay and an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago with which he remains closely involved.


Vanessa Otero

Vanessa Otero is the creator of the Media Bias Chart and the Founder and CEO of Ad Fontes Media.

A former patent attorney in the Denver, Colorado area, Vanessa holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and a J.D. from the University of Denver. Vanessa's formal education and professional career has centered on analytical reading, writing, and reasoning, creating an ideal background for her to create a content analysis methodology for evaluating text.

Alarmed by the unhealthy state of the media ecosystem, Vanessa used her expertise in content analysis to create the original Media Bias Chart in 2016. Then in 2018, she founded Ad Fontes Media to fulfill the need revealed by the popularity of the chart–namely, to meet the demand for a map to help people navigate the complex media landscape, as well as for comprehensive content analysis of media sources themselves. Today, Ad Fontes Media uses a systematic approach to content analysis in which a team of politically-balanced professional analysts examine and categorize news content creating data that is useful to news consumers, educators, marketers, and even publishers themselves. Ad Fontes also offers training in its content analysis methodology through products and services for educational institutions and for individuals.

Vanessa is on the Board of Directors of Community Radio for Northern Colorado and is on the Advisory Council of Media Literacy Now. Vanessa has also been published or featured in articles and blogs on news literacy, news bias and free speech, social media, and conspiracy theories. These sources have included the Poynter Institute, BigThink, MarketWatch, Lifehacker, City A.M., and more. She is a much sought-after speaker at national news literacy workshops and webinars, and presented a workshop at the Northeast Media Literacy Conference this past fall.

Vanessa is committed to making the world a better place with her passion and belief in decreasing the polarization in our news and our society, as well as educating students, teachers, and the public on the true value of media literacy and the importance of a healthy news ecosystem.


Sean Compton

Sean Compton was appointed President, Networks in November 2020. He joined Nexstar Media Group, Inc. as the Executive Vice President of WGN America (now known as NewsNation), WGN Radio and Director of Content Acquisition in connection with the Company's acquisition of Tribune Media Company in September 2019. He is responsible for the long-term strategy and day-to-day operations of The CW Network, NewsNation, Antenna TV, Rewind TV, Nexstar programming acquisitions, The Hill and WGN Radio.

Prior to joining Nexstar, Mr. Compton was President of Strategic Programming and Acquisitions for Tribune Company from 2008 to 2019 where he oversaw programming for 42 Tribune television stations and nationally distributed digital network Antenna TV. He also spent 16 years in radio at Clear Channel Radio & Premiere Radio Networks of which, he served as Vice President of programming for 10 years before joining Tribune.


Michael Strober

Michael Strober joined Nexstar as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer in January 2023. Mr. Strober is responsible for leading Nexstar's national advertising sales organization across its linear and digital platforms.

From 2019 until 2023, he served as founder and president of Topwater Advisory Group (private), a strategic consultancy focused on digital transformation for several of the industry's top media and advertising technology companies. From 2016 to 2019, Mr. Strober served as Executive Vice President, Client Strategy & Ad Innovation for Turner and was co-head of Turner Ignite, the company's portfolio solutions division.

Opening Remarks

Michael Strober – Chief Revenue Officer of Nexstar Media Group

The Importance of News

Introductory perspective: George Will – Senior Political Contributor, NewsNation

The State of Journalism Today

Moderator: John Battelle – Entrepreneur, Journalist, Investor, and Author

Confirmed Panelists:

  • Chris Cuomo – Host of NewsNation's [CUOMO]
  • Cherie Grzech – Senior Vice President News, Managing Editor, NewsNation
  • Rod Carter – Anchor, WNCN Raleigh
  • Bob Cusack – Editor-in-Chief, The Hill

America at a Crossroads, Marketers Will Determine the Direction We Take

Presentation by Vanessa Otero, CEO & Founder, Ad Fontes Media

News, Brands, and Impact

Moderator: Rishad Tobaccowala – former Chief Strategy and Growth officer of Publicis

Panelists to be announced

Closing Remarks

Sean Compton – President of Networks, Nexstar Media Group