I don’t do this very often, but I’m going to ask you, my loyal readers, for money.
It’s no secret that these are challenging times for journalism. Financial pressures seem to be pushing all for-profit publications toward the same click-hungry model.
Grist does not exist to make a profit. We exist because the country needs a place where curious people can discover and discuss the central problem of our time: how humans can live on a finite planet in a way that’s sustainable over the long haul. We don’t judge ourselves on the clicks we get, but on the conversations we start. (That sounds like a slogan, but actually I just made it up. It’s true, though!)
And so far we’re making a go of it — we’ve been putting funny headlines on depressing stories for 15 years. My beard joined the staff 10 years ago and ever since then I’ve been allowed to follow my nose, to dig out the wonky issues that matter and explain them in human-ese. Nobody ever asked me to make cute slideshows (though, ahem, otters). The main question that guides our editorial staff: Is this story something a good citizen of the 21st century should know about? If so, then do it, even if you know that a series on electric utilities will never compete with a cute cat listicle.
And if I can brag a little on my fellow Gristies:
- Brentin Mock did a great series on utilities trying to turn communities of color against clean energy.
- In addition to his stellar day-to-day reporting on climate news, I love reading Ben Adler on conservatives and cities.
- Heather Smith covers the activism beat with funny, insightful stories like this one, a dispatch from a train car full of climate activists. (“I have never smelled burning sage on Amtrak before.”)
- Nate Johnson’s ongoing series on how to sustainably feed a growing global population has managed to avoid stale ideological fights and offer a genuinely fresh take that made me think.
- Budding small-screen matinee idol Greg Hanscom does all kinds of good reporting, but it’s his simple advice on what to do if you’re hit by a car while riding your bike that I find myself linking to again and again.
We hire smart people and let them write about what matters.
But it costs money. The way we’ve survived this long is by connecting with a group of readers who care about our conversations enough to support us financially.
That’s the only way we survive.
So please, if you can, spare a few bucks to help us keep at it. Whether you give or not, thanks for coming back and thanks for caring about news that matters.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming …