A Message From Our Executive Director
“Reality is fracturing around partisan lines, and the divide seems to only be growing deeper.” – Writer Brian Resnick on Vox.com
We started FERN in what seems like another era but was actually only about six years ago. We believed that important stories about the food system — too often ignored by editors and publishers at the best of times — lost what little purchase they had in a media business suffering from a revenue apocalypse. We struggled at the beginning to place our fact-based, rigorously reported stories. Even important stories, such as Tracie McMillan’s 2012 investigation into wage theft among Latino farmworkers in California, took superhuman efforts to find a publisher.
More than one hundred stories later, our efforts have earned millions of readers, accolades, and well over a dozen journalism awards, like the James Beard reporting award for McMillan’s story in 2013 (the first of two James Beard awards that we’ve received).
Then 2016 happened. And we learned that facts aren’t enough. That the cultural, economic, and informational divides in this country are deeper than many of us thought. And that the power of storytelling and narrative, when wielded irresponsibly, is potent enough to weave distinct, and mutually exclusive, realities.
But while it may seem that false narratives can eclipse facts and science, powerful storytelling grounded in fact and science can break through the barriers people erect to protect themselves from uncomfortable truths. And that’s where FERN’s strength lies. Put simply: We tell great stories.
We nest complicated issues and obscure policies within ripping yarns, like Ben Goldfarb’s story about the New England kingpin known as The Codfather that revealed the shortcomings of the nation’s primary fisheries-management scheme. Or within inspiring, against-all-odds success stories, like Jane Black’s Revenge of the Lunch Lady, which showed how one person could work within the system to transform school lunch for an entire city. Stories like these get attention and change minds.
If you think our coverage of food and agriculture is important, if you want to ensure these issues break through the noise of today’s news, then please consider supporting FERN with a tax-deductible donation. Any level of support will be put toward more great storytelling. If you give $25 or more, we’ll send you our latest print collection, The Dirt 2017 — six of our favorite page-turners from the past year. And thanks to News Match 2017, all donations received before 12/31 will be doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000 per donor!