In the Media

FERN’s work has been featured in the following media:

In Slate in June 2018, Felix Salmon held up FERN as an example of the best kind of non-profit journalism and worthy of expanded philanthropic support.

Our video explainer, “What is the farm bill and why does it matter?”, was mentioned widely on social media by influencers in food policy such as Marion Nestle, Mark Bittman, Slow Food DC, Berkeley Food Institute, LA Food Policy Council, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and California Association of Food Banks. Publishers who shared the video included UC Food Observer, Mother Jones Food, Harvest Public Media, and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. June 2018

Our “SPOTLIGHT 2018: Stories to watch in food and agriculture” was mentioned by Mother Earth News, Slow Food USA, Sacramento Food Policy Council, and INN. February 2018

Future of Food includes FERN in their list of of “Key Influencers. February 2018

Democracy Fund praises the 2017 success of the NewsMatch program, a $3 million fund created to match donations to nonprofit newsrooms, including FERN. February 2018 
“From October 1 to December 31, NewsMatch raised more than $4.8 million from individual donors and a coalition of foundations.”

FERN is cited in The Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s “Guide to Audience Revenue and Engagement” for the “Tracking Our Impact” page on FERN’s website. February 2018
“First-time visitors to your site will need to be appropriately introduced and you’ll want to present a set of stories that demonstrate your work well. The Food and Environment Reporting Network does this well with its comprehensive page detailing the impact of its reporting …”

FERN is highlighted in a report by the American Press Institute on partnerships between non-profits and newsrooms. May 2017
“What people really look to us for is an expertise in our focus … They’re short of money, but what they’re really short of is attention span and time,” Sam Fromartz (FERN’s editor-in-chief) said about the commercial news outlets that partner with FERN. “Every editor is overworked.”

FERN’s partnership with The Lens is mentioned in this report about collaboration in media by Nieman Lab. May 2017
Second, [media partnerships] require trust, which takes time to build. Steve Myers, managing editor of the New Orleans-based site The Lens (itself a model for local collaboration, having co-reported projects with ProPublica, Slate, the Weather Channel and recently this project, a fascinating three-way partnership between The Lens, FERN (the Food & Environment Reporting Network), and Gravy, a site that explores food cultures of the South) says mutual respect is key. “More than a name, you need to know what the other people are about,” he said.

Amanda Oborne, Vice President of Food & Farms at Ecotrust, recommends FERN & Ag Insider as essential reads. February 2017
For those actively working or volunteering in food system reform, I can also recommend the Food & Environment Reporting Network and its partner publication, Ag Insider…”

Reporter Michelle Nijhuis listed Liza Gross’s “Seeding Doubt” story in “Longreads Best of of 2016: Science Writing.” December 2016
“At a time when even the concept of truth is debatable, and no fact can be taken for granted, such deep dives into the reliability of our public messengers are more essential than ever.”

FERN’s “The Dirt: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Food and Farming” listed on Food+Tech+Connect’s Ultimate Food Tech Gift Guide. December 2016
“With an introduction by FERN’s Editor-in-Chief Samuel Fromartz, a foreword by Michael Pollan and striking full-color photographs and infographics throughout this large format book, The Dirt showcases sixteen stories from FERN’s substantial body of work.”

Ruth Reichl calls FERN one of the leaders in changing the food media landscape. February 2016
Eater: What do you think about the food media landscape today?
Reichl: In 2006, I gave a speech to the newspaper editorial writers convention begging them to please pay attention to food. Ten years later, you couldn’t give that speech anymore. Today, you’ve got people paying attention to [food issues] in the mainstream media. You have The New Yorker doing a food issue, Ted Genoways is doing fantastic stuff at Atlantic Monthly, you’ve got organizations like Civil Eats, FERN [Food and Environment Reporting Network], and a lot of people putting energy into serious food issues.
[Reichl is a member of the FERN advisory board.]

FERN named as one of the top online influencers in the GMO vs. Organic Food Debate by Onalytica. October 2015

FERN listed as one of the 250 Must-Follow Twitter Feeds for Every Food Activist. August 2015
@FERNnews: “For quality food related investigative journalism, follow the Food and Environment Reporting Network and be captured by their complex stories about agriculture and environmental health.”

2015 James Beard Foundation Award Winner. May 2015

In 2015, FERN won a second James Beard Foundation Award for our story, “The Quinoa Quarrel: Who Owns The Greatest Superfood?” Written by Lisa Hamilton, the story appeared with original photography, also by Hamilton, in Harper’s Magazine. FERN, Harper’s and Hamilton took home the award for best reporting in the category of Food Politics, Policy and the Environment.

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2015 Food Tank Summit: Telling the Story of Food Panel. January 2015

“We have a really simple job: to find stories and put them out into the world. We see that as a public good, because we’re increasing the knowledge and potentially leading to some outrage and action on the part of our readers,” FERN Editor-in-Chief speaking on what makes FERN unique.

IJNet International Journalists’ Network. January 2015
“To Sam Fromartz, Editor-in-Chief of the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN), “it’s all about the packaging.” Fromartz said there’s a danger to segmenting your story topics into silos. “It’s all about how it’s interconnected.” Anytime you can overlap as many of those issues – whether environmental, human interest or social – as you can without losing the focus of the narrative, it will make a stronger story, he said.”

The Daily Meal. January 2015
“The role of media is the key to informing public opinion about these crucial issues that range from food safety and nutrition to food access and environmental health.” &emdash;5 Questions with the Food and Environment Reporting Network’s (Editor-in-Chief) Sam Fromartz.

Food Tank. December 2014
The Food and Environment Reporting Network is named one of the 101 Food Organizations to Watch in 2015, along with an esteemed selection of “organizations across the globe that are working to fight food waste, combat the dual paradoxes of hunger and obesity, recognize the multiple roles of family farmers, increase nutrient density, protect agricultural diversity, and adapt to a changing climate.”

The Brooklyn Eagle. November 2014
“Guests at Monday’s party (FERN Talks & Eats in Brooklyn) had the chance to eat and drink while shows popped up all around the room…In keeping with FERN’s mission, all of the talks were centered around in-depth and investigative pieces on food, agriculture and environmental health… The food that complemented the readings was both fitting and delicious.”

Nieman Journalism Lab. April 2014
“The Food & Environment Reporting Network will use its $35,000 in funding to launch a series of events called FERN Talks & Eats, that combines live stories about food with dishes prepared by a chef. Tom Laskawy, cofounder and executive director of FERN, said over email: ‘Our primary hope is that the event is an entertaining and delicious experience attractive to a paying audience as well as to corporate sponsors. The ultimate goal is to repeat and replicate our initial event in different cities and generate an on-going revenue stream.’”

Food Tank. December 2013
FERN is named one of the 101 Food Organizations to Watch in 2013 for “playing a vital part in creating a better food system” by “producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.”

Inter Press Service. October 2013
“A potential knowledge gap arises as environmental journalism shrinks. The public learns less about environmental and related health issues, but at the same time may fall prey to unscientific claims that often hold sway on the Internet,” a worried Samuel Fromartz, the editor-in-chief of the non-profit Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), told IPS on the sidelines of the 23rd annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, held earlier this month in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Without journalists to uncover stories and speak to authoritative sources, the public loses,” he said.”

The Netherland’s NRC Handelsblad. July 2013
In her story “Journalism Beyond Recipes and Restaurants,” NRC reporter Grace Wermenbol explained how FERN operates as it shines a light on food, agriculture and environmental issues.

Open Notebook. February 2013
FERN reporter Maryn McKenna writes: “One difficulty of writing for big magazines, particularly if you are doing anything investigative or narrative, is that you have to do so much research before you see any money. It’s a real barrier to accomplishing those kind of complex stories. But FERN’s grants allow them to give writers pitch funding, essentially small research grants, in advance of the story being sold.”

Mother Earth News. January 2013
“It can be difficult these days to find hard-hitting investigative reports on the urgent issues we face involving food, agriculture and environmental health. The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) is a new independent, nonprofit news organization that is producing some outstanding articles.”

Pew State of the Media. 2013
“While traditional newsrooms have shrunk, however, there are other new players producing content that could advance citizens’ knowledge about public issues. They are covering subject areas that would have once been covered more regularly and deeply by beat reporters at traditional news outlets—areas such as health, science and education…. Now others, such as …. the Food and Environment Reporting Network with funding from nonprofit foundations are beginning to emerge.”

Investigative News Network. July 2012
“The continued growth of INN is a testament to the strength of the nonprofit news movement,” said Kevin Davis, CEO & Executive Director of INN. “FERN is the 62nd organization to join our network, and its coverage of food and health issues will complement the work of many INN members.”

Twin Cities Daily Planet. March 2012
“In its first year, FERN has supported the work of reporters who took weeks and months to unearth and document stories about agricultural water pollution, and the use of controversial growth substances in the pork industry. This is expensive work at a time when budget pressures have forced massive job cuts in newsrooms everywhere. And this at a time when consumer concern about what’s in their food is increasing. Fortunately, more FERN stories are in the works.”

Zester Daily. February 2012
“There is a shortage of food news, at least the kind that requires shoe leather, document searches and Freedom of Information Act requests. At a time when the American public is demanding more and better information about what they eat and drink, investigative reporting on food issues is dwindling — a casualty of the shrinking staffs at financially strapped newspapers and magazines. It’s a crisis, says Samuel Fromartz, a former business editor with Reuters and author of “Organic Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew.” Important food and agriculture stories aren’t being told, he says, because the journalists who would have written those stories have lost their jobs.”

Grist. January 2012
“As editor-in-chief, Fromartz says he has seen many publications limit food coverage to “material that’s very chef- and recipe-focused.” So, he says, the network was born out of a twofold desire. “We were seeing more people interested in food and food policy issues. At the same time, we’ve been witnessing the decline of media over the past few years — journalists being cut, media companies cutting back their in-depth reporting, etc.””