What We Do
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.
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.
Currently, investigative reporting is at risk as an enterprise. Historically a loss-leader for publishers, in-depth reporting has always been the backbone of good journalism. Yet tight budgets have forced many outlets to reduce investigative staff while those that remain are forced to do more with less time and support.
New media has challenged the old model of journalism and has opened opportunities to spread stories far beyond their original publication. We believe the future of media will require partnerships between non-profit and for-profit outlets to produce these costly and yet absolutely critical stories and to provide communications support after publication.
The Food & Environment Reporting Network is based in New York City. It was founded in September 2010 by an initial team that included Samuel Fromartz, Tom Laskawy, Naomi Starkman, and Paula Crossfield. It began operations in January 2011.
We are funded through the generous support of our donors and current foundation supporters include The 11th Hour Project, McKnight Foundation, the Fund for Nonprofit News at the Miami Foundation, the Woodcock Foundation, the California Endowment, California Humanities, Joyce and Irving Goldman Foundation, and Nell Newman Foundation.
Or read our Editorial Board members’ bios.
We also maintain a Code of Ethics for our reporters and staff.