If you report on food, agriculture, and environmental health issues, you need to know about a new outfit called (not surprisingly) the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Like California Watch and similar journalism enterprises, the non-profit, non-partisan Network funds reporters to do the investigative stories that aren’t getting told these days.
Says Editor in Chief Sam Fromartz: “We’ve chosen to focus on food, agriculture, and environmental health specifically because we feel these are under-reported subjects that touch people’s lives every day.”
The organization publishes their stories in mainstream news outlets including newspapers such as The Washington Post and magazines such as The American Prospect and The Nation. A recent Network-commissioned story about ractopamine, a drug fed to U.S. pigs but banned in exports to the European Union, China, and other countries, appeared on MSNBC and has so far received 420 Tweets, more than a thousand Facebook shares, and more than 180 comments.
The group is led by well-respected journalists such as Fromartz, author of Organic, Inc., and Naomi Starkman, founder of Civil Eats, and counts as advisers Ruth Reichl, Elizabeth Royte, and Allison Arieff. Financial support comes from, among others, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, and the McKnight Foundation.
I had the honor of editing the first story published by the Network, an account of one man’s successful drive to fight the water pollution caused by New Mexico’s mega-dairies, which appeared in the award-winning Western publication High Country News. I’m now on the editorial board of the organization and working with writers on a couple of other Network-commissioned stories as well. I’m enjoying the chance to watch a new journalism enterprise take hold.