Who Funds Drilled News?

Published Jan. 30, 2020

Updated Nov. 1, 2020


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:


  • Grants: Drilled News received early funding from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Thank you to the  Economic Hardship Reporting Project and  Fossil Free Media for providing launch support for Drilled Local. If your organization would like to talk about supporting local and regional climate accountability journalism, please get in touch. As additional organizations provide funding for Drilled News, we will update this list.

  • Investment: Drilled News has received a small amount of investment from the film production company Parkes + MacDonald. Critical Frequency, the podcast company founded by Amy Westervelt in 2018, has also invested in Drilled News. 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.

  • Crowdfunding: We receive funding directly from readers via paid subscriptions and memberships to the weekly Hot Take newsletter and the Drilled News Patreon.

  • 2019 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

  • Amy Westervelt, founder and executive editor, 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, senior editor, is a longtime environmental journalist. Her reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Popular Science, Audubon, Sierra, Reveal News/CIR, HuffPost, Arctic Deeply, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Grist, and more. 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, and published her fellowship news venture, the (de)regulation nation newsletter, from spring 2018 to late 2019. Emily is currently a board officer of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

  • 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, co-author with Amy of the Hot Take newsletter, 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.

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