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© 2020 by Critical Frequency

Who Funds Drilled News?

Drilled News aims to provide the same level of transparency about our operations that we’d like to see in other organizations, across the political spectrum. Here is information about who funds us, who works here, and how we do our reporting.


Funding

To best ensure our ongoing editorial independence, we are actively working to create and sustain diversified revenue streams for Drilled News. Our current sources of funding are.


  • Grants: In the past year, we have received grants from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. We currently have proposals out to, and ongoing conversations with, assorted other foundations and grantmakers (holler if you want to suggest any!). As additional organizations provide funding for Drilled News, we will update this list.

  • Investment: Our founder, Amy Westervelt, has invested her own personal money in this venture (no, not generational wealth). We have also received a small amount of investment from the film production company Parkes + MacDonald. Critical Frequency, the podcast company founded by Amy in 2018, has also invested in Drilled News. Critical Frequency was named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019, alongside Radiotopia. In addition to producing the Drilled podcast, Critical Frequency has produced 16 other shows, generating advertising revenues and profit, much of which Amy has now invested in Drilled News.

  • Advertising: Right now there is no advertising on Drilled News. But we are open to it! Past and present podcast advertisers include: Better Health, Askov Finlayson, Prudential Insurance, Wondery, and many other podcasts.

  • Member Program: We were, perhaps, over-ambitious in launching a member program before we really had the (wo)manpower to make it worthwhile. Nonetheless, some 200 kind souls who wanted to support independent investigative climate journalism bought into the first iteration of our member program in 2019, each paying $5 a month. That member program and feed have been shut down while we retool and figure out what a better, fully-featured member offering ought to be. We hope to re-launch it soon.


Staff and Advisors

Our staff and advisors are all journalists or media experts:

  • Amy Westervelt is a 20-year reporting veteran who has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, The Guardian, HuffPost,The Washington Post, InsideClimate News, and The New York Times, as well as The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and Reno Public Radio. She is the recipient of several awards, including a Folio Eddie, a regional Edward R. Murrow award, the Online News Association’s Excellence in Audio Storytelling award, and a Rachel Carson award for “women greening journalism”. Amy is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Authors Guild.

  • Emily J. Gertz, our senior editor, is a longtime environmental journalist. Her reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Popular Science, Audubon, Sierra, HuffPost, Men’s Journal, Grist, and more. From 2014 to 2016 she was an associate editor atTakePart, the former online news site of Participant Media. In 2018 she was a Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellow at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Emily is currently a board officer of the Society of Environmental Journalists, which works to strengthen the quality and reach of environmental journalism, in order to advance public understanding of environmental issues, and for over a decade served on of SEJ’s Freedom of Information Task Force.

  • Karen Savage and Naomi LaChance, our reporters, have written for Undark, The Intercept, NPR, Climate Liability News, and U.S. News & World Report.

  • Emily Atkin, the founder and reporter behind our newsletter partner Heated, is a contributing editor at The New Republic, where she was previously an editor and reporter.

  • Rekha Murthy, our podcast advisor, worked at NPR’s flagship evening newscast, All Things Considered, before going on to work for PRX, where she helped launch Radiotopia. She has since consulted on and helped to launch dozens of popular podcasts.

  • Mary Annaise Heglar is a well-respected climate justice essayist whose work has appeared in Vox, Wired, and Guernica.

  • James Wheaton, who conducts legal review of our investigative projects, is Senior Counsel for the First Amendment Project, which he founded in 1991. He has more than 30 years of experience practicing public interest, civil rights, constitutional, and related areas of law. He assisted in authoring California’s pioneering anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”) law, California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, and continues to litigate anti-SLAPP cases as well as a variety of matters concerning public access to information, freedom of the press, and media law. Jim teaches First Amendment and Media Law at the Stanford Graduate School of Communications, as well as the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.


A word on Richard Wiles. Since launching, Drilled News has caught the attention of FTI Consulting (via the blog it runs for The Independent Petroleum Association of America), and The Daily Caller Foundation, a conservative think tank. These entities have raised concerns about the funding and purpose of Drilled News, in particular by claiming that we are agents of a climate litigation activist named Richard Wiles. This is completely and demonstrably false. A portion of our funding comes from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, not Richard Wiles’ Center for Climate Integrity. Our agreement with IGSD assures our editorial independence, and full ownership of our content and brand. Wiles introduced us to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which was critical to landing our initial launch grant. For that, we have consistently thanked him in our credits. In our first season we even gave him an "executive producer" credit—we gave a lot of people who helped us launch lofty titles that didn't reflect their actual work on the show. In retrospect that was foolish. Does Wiles constantly send us pitches and ideas, and sometimes even unsolicited critiques of our work? Yes. Do other environmental organizations (as well as businesses, lawmakers, research institutions, universities, marketers...) do the same? Yes.


What about that ad? For our first season podcast launch, IGSD offered to let us use a month’s worth of marketing with their social media firm (Beaconfire). As indie podcasters, this was a huge boon, and seemed on the level. A few months later, however, Amy Westervelt saw an ad created by Beaconfire with a really over-the-top design and tagline suggesting that Drilled had a connection to an environmental activism campaign that also received some IGSD funding, called “Polluter Pays.” Amy demanded the ad be pulled, immediately ceased working with Beaconfire, and has had no interaction with it since.


Our Reporting Process

We independently report every story we publish and do our best to report accurately, fairly, and truthfully, wherever the facts lead. But we don’t believe that “objective” means toothless, or necessitate false equivalence.


If we have documentation of malfeasance, we say so. For too many years the notion of objectivity in journalism has been used as a cudgel to scare off investigative reporters, and to imbue the status quo with a value it doesn’t necessarily deserve. We strive to hold the powerful accountable across industries and across the political spectrum by following the story.


When corrections and clarifications come to our attention, we will update articles accordingly, note the correction on the article page, and make any needed changes to headlines, summaries, and social media.


If you spot inaccuracies in our reporting, please let us know via our contact form.