Happily ever anchor: Linsey Davis talks finding joy amid year’s tumult

ABC’s Linsey Davis balanced reporting the news, writing a children’s book and keeping her family safe in 2020.

Despite working as a national news anchor based in New York, Linsey Davis will always call Moorestown home. The ABC News anchor waved goodbye to the adolescent home her parents recently sold, admitting that a wave of emotion hit as she said her goodbyes. 

“I felt heavy, actually, when I was leaving for the last time,” Davis said. 

But she has found herself a new home. On Feb. 1, ABC News President James Goldston announced that Davis will anchor the weekend edition of “World News Tonight” on Sundays. That comes as Davis celebrates her one year anniversary as anchor of ABC News Live’s first, prime time  streaming evening newscast, and the publication of her third children’s book “Stay This Way Forever.” 

Davis grew up in Medford, but much of her youth was spent in Moorestown. Her family attended Bethel AME Church in Moorestown, and she began attending Moorestown Friends School in eighth grade. 

The family moved to Moorestown the following year. She has fond memories of finally being old enough to eat lunch off campus and meeting one of her closest friends nearly every day at a small cheese shop that used to be on Main Street.

Even after she moved away, Davis still made regular trips to town, visiting her parents at least once every other month. 

“It was kind of like my childhood home, and I was bringing my son there until just a year ago,” she said. “It was 30 years that Moorestown was kind of home.”

Like the rest of us, home has taken on a new meaning for Davis within the last year. When the pandemic hit, she was a mere month into anchoring “ABC News Live” when staff was forced to work remotely. She said in one respect, the timing was unfortunate, because the program had just been launched, but at the same time, it was a bit fortuitous in that there was suddenly a renewed sense of urgency for news consumption. 

“News, I think, became — and maybe still is to some extent — a lifeline for people,” Davis observed. “Before, it kind of was like, ‘Oh, let’s see what the news is today.’ But during that time it was like, ‘Is my world safe? Am I safe? What do I need to do to stay alive.’” 

The news also took on a personal resonance. At one point, Westchester county, where Davis and her family live, became “the epicenter of COVID.” Her son’s school was one of the first in the country to start homeschooling. But it helped her to convey the news in a really personal way because much like the people she was reporting on, she was also figuring out how to balance work, homeschooling and keeping the family safe.

Despite its challenges, 2020 had no shortage of career milestones for Davis, who co-anchored ABC’s 2020 election coverage, including all eight nights of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. She reported on five straight days of presidential election coverage until a winner was declared, and covered Inauguration Day. During the height of protests against police brutality, she also conducted the first roundtable discussion with Black female mayors from across the country.

Davis said while technology has still afforded journalists the ability to connect and ask the appropriate questions, it’s just not fully the same. 

“There’s something about being in the room with someone and making eye contact directly with the person and asking those hard questions,  especially when you’re talking to a politician for example, and really holding people accountable,” she explained. “It’s different when you’re able to be with them up close.”

In the face of 2020’s many intensely fluctuating “Ps” (police brutality, protests, pandemic, presidency), Davis began thinking about all she wanted to preserve for her son. The last year enabled many parents to spend more time at home with their children and cherish simple moments of laughter or dancing. 

Watching the pure joy of her 7-year-old son, Ayden, made her wish she could preserve the innocence of childhood for him. Those ruminations were the impetus for “Stay This Way Forever,” which publishes on Feb. 23. 

The release is Davis’ third children’s book. She started writing simply because it was something she was passionate about. She said the book industry is very different from television news, and she had no idea how she was going to go about creating a children’s book. But she figured it out. Davis hopes her published work serves as an inspiration for Ayden — who is the muse for her books — that he can also do anything he wants to do if he believes in himself. 

“Stay This Way Forever,” in particular, delves into the youthful pleasure that is derived from being young, happy and uninhibited, like the simple moments when her son hears music and wants to dance. Davis said he doesn’t care if he’s on the beat or not; he’s just expressing himself. Amid all the heaviness of the last year, it’s those moments that inspired her. 

“I’m just savoring those aspects of childhood.”