As a nonprofit newsroom, Grist tries to distribute its journalism to as many people as possible by syndicating stories and establishing partnerships with other newsrooms. Those partnerships usually entail another newsroom working together with Grist to report a story, or coordinating with Grist to co-publish one of our stories.
But in late 2020, we decided to go a step further and established a long-term partnership with WABE, the NPR affiliate in Atlanta, Georgia. Grist hired Savannah, Georgia-based reporter Emily Jones, who reports on climate solutions and adaptation in both audio and text formats for both newsrooms.
Here’s how it works: Whenever Jones reports a feature for WABE, Grist distributes the text version of the story to a network of newspaper and digital outlets in Georgia to syndicate. Several times a year, Jones will write for Grist to provide context about Georgia stories to a national audience, and those stories are available to any outlet to republish. This way, stories from the partnership are made available for syndication to local, state, and national print and digital outlets.
“WABE’s partnership with Grist has allowed us to combine editorial power to increase our environment coverage in a large, complicated state like Georgia in radio, digital, and social platforms,” said Alex Helmick, WABE’s managing editor. “Our Grist-WABE journalist reports on stories that would otherwise not necessarily get covered. The partnership allows us to combine our editing resources as well as share our stories with other local media outlets that may not have the capacity to pursue such important issues.”
After proving success from the ongoing Georgia partnership, Grist secured initial funding to expand this model to the Midwest. Now, Grist is establishing local media partnerships in Illinois and Michigan to work with Chicago Public Media and Interlochen Public Radio (IPR), respectively. We’re currently hiring for both of these roles.
“Grist’s goal is to lead the conversation on climate change, and ensure that people are talking about it as often as possible,” said Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist’s CEO. “Part of that means finding audiences that Grist’s work hasn’t traditionally reached. Through this model and our amazing partner newsrooms, we deliver high-quality climate news to local and regional audiences that comes from reporters living in those places, is assigned by editors who understand the terrain, and then is distributed through trusted messengers, including newspapers that families have been reading for generations.”
In Chicago, the reporter will cover energy, the natural environment, and the local and regional impact of climate change.
“At WBEZ and Chicago Public Media, we value and cultivate partnerships that allow us to elevate and expand in important topic areas,” said Tracy Brown, Chicago Public Media’s chief content officer. “We’re especially excited to be partners with Grist over the next three years, aligning our strategies and resources on climate, justice, and solutions journalism. This collaborative initiative will allow us to do important work in the greater Chicago region, particularly in marginalized communities.”
And in Northern Michigan, the IPR reporter will write about climate impacts, environmental health, and solutions to the climate crisis in the Upper Great Lakes region.
“It’ll increase our capacity to do the kinds of reporting most important to people who look to public radio to explain what’s going on in the world,” Peter Payette, IPR’s executive director, said of the role in a statement. “It also furthers our vision to be part of a news network that collectively meets the needs of the region and nation, rather than going it alone.”
After both reporters are hired this spring, Grist will work with both partner newsrooms to establish syndication networks throughout the Midwest.
Grist is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.