FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK

Independent. Investigative. Non-profit.

aka FERN   |   New York, NY   |  http://www.thefern.org

Mission

The Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) is the first independent, nonprofit news organization that produces award-winning, high-impact investigative and explanatory reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health through exclusive partnerships with regional and national media outlets. Through our impartial “watchdog” journalism we seek to shine a light on injustices and abuses of power within the food system — both corporate and governmental — while taking full measure of the true impact food and agriculture have on people, public health, animals, and the environment. FERN uncovers, explores, and explains news that is critical to the public’s right to know about food, agriculture, and environmental health in order to inform, inspire, and catalyze change.

Ruling year info

2011

Executive Director

Thomas Laskawy

Main address

580 Fifth Ave., Ste. 820

New York, NY 10036 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-4108978

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (K05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The issues FERN covers are at the heart of today's political (and sometime physical) battles. Trade, immigration, public health, toxic chemicals, labor, nutrition and water quality, all fall within our reporting mandate and grow more contentious with each passing day. FERN provides the editorial expertise to explore, explain and investigate all corners of the food system as well as to fill gaps in coverage that have arisen due to the ongoing and accelerating disruption of the traditional media business model.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Media & Communications

Through our impartial “watchdog” journalism we seek to shine a light on injustices and abuses of power within the food system — both corporate and governmental — while taking full measure of the true impact food and agriculture have on public health and the environment. FERN uncovers, explores, and explains news that is critical to the public’s right to know about food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Through our impartial “watchdog” journalism we seek to shine a light on injustices and abuses of power within the food system — both corporate and governmental — while taking full measure of the true impact food and agriculture have on public health and the environment. FERN uncovers, explores, and explains news that is critical to the public’s right to know about food, agriculture, and environmental health.

We’ve chosen to focus on food, agriculture, and environmental health specifically because these subjects touch our lives every day in profound ways. There are a wealth of urgent stories to be told and as editors and reporters with decades of writing about these subjects under our belt, we do so in a timely and compelling way.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Food, Politics, Policy and the Environment 2013

James Beard Foundation

Food, Politics, Policy and the Environment 2015

James Beard Foundation

Gold Keyboard Award 2016

New York Press Foundation

Edward R. Murrow Award 2016

Radio Television Digital News Association

Excellence in Journalism Award 2017

Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of media partnerships developed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Media & Communications

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of stories successfully placed in the media

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Media & Communications

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of websites and organizations (outside of our organization) that share our resources and information

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Media & Communications

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Through impartial, unbiased, fact-based “watchdog" impact journalism from experienced reporters, we seek to reveal corruption, abuse of power, and exploitation and to expose activities and subjects that are hidden or often ignored. The Food & Environment Reporting Network uncovers and explores news critical to the public's right to know about food, agriculture, and environmental health.

FERN primarily produces in-depth and investigative longform news articles and functions as a full-service news organization. FERN's process includes planning, contracting with journalists, providing editorial oversight and negotiating distribution agreements with mainstream publications. FERN supports its written reports with infographics and other visualizations, social media activity, through radio and television broadcast collaborations, and live events. FERN rigorously tracks the impact of its stories using a range of metrics. We follow strict ethical guidelines in our news-gathering and publishing to assure that our reporting is grounded in accuracy, impartiality and reasoned analysis. FERN operates free from hidden agendas or biases and preserves total editorial independence by maintaining a strict firewall among funders, the Board of Directors, and our editorial operations.

FERN has worked with over 41 freelance writers to commission and produce 70 stories that have appeared in 34 outlets. FERN is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, the primary industry association for non-profit news organizations, and has built key partnerships with other non-profit news organizations like the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

FERN has established itself as a trusted source for news and is a 2013, 2015, and 2018 James Beard Award Winner and a 2014 James Beard Award nominee for its reporting on Food Politics, Policy and the Environment, as well as a 2014 winner of the IACP award for “Writing that Makes a Difference." In addition, FERN was specifically acknowledged by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in its "State of the News Media 2013" as one of a handful of new non-profit journalism ventures beginning to emerge “that could advance citizens' knowledge about public issues."

In aggregate, our stories have reached over 100 million Americans. We expect to continue releasing hard-hitting long-form news stories and to support our stories with strong promotional campaigns. We will continue to work with freelance journalists with no plans to create a permanently staffed newsroom. We see the advantages of engaging a multiplicity of voices as we expand our coverage. We have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to deliver high-impact journalism that reaches a large audience. In the last year alone, several of our stories have helped spur policy changes at the international, national, and state levels. Our collaborative distribution model gives us the rare ability to reach audiences who are not already exposed to or familiar with the issues bound up in food and agriculture.

Our goal is to produce more long-form stories covering regional issues over the as well as to produce dedicated regional policy reporting to be distributed through our Ag Insider subscription service. We cover local issues in ways that get at or speak to, broader issues of systemic breakdown, degradation, mitigation, and reform. We thus achieve impact both regionally and nationally. While we will seek out local publication partners, we will continue to prioritize national publications. production of data journalism with a state-level focus in our interest areas.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    FERN’s primary constituency is the news-consuming public. Working with our other main stakeholders, mainstream media outlets like NPR, The Washington Post, National Geographic, The Guardian, weather.com and others enables us to reach a wide audience. We stimulate the national conversation. Our goal is to reach the audiences where they are, in print, broadcast or online. In many cases, we reach deep into the middle of the country, through partnerships with regional publications such as Arkansas Life, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, High Country News, NET (Nebraska public media), I-News in Colorado, The Texas Observer, and Harvest Public Media.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK

Board of directors
as of 1/12/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Joanne Kelley

Nat Brown

Samuel Fromartz

Food & Environment Reporting Network

Susan West

West Gold Editorial Consulting

Lorraine Fontanes

Joanne Kelley

Aileen Burdick

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/22/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/22/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.