This week the outdoor equipment and clothing retailer REI Co-op announced a $100,000 donation to NewsMatch. The gift will support and expand coverage of the environment and the outdoors in ten local communities across the country, from North Carolina to Washington state, and every dollar will be matched by individual donors in those communities during the annual NewsMatch campaign in November and December. This is the first corporate partnership for NewsMatch in 2019.
Citing the rapid decline of local newspapers over the last decade, and the dwindling climate change coverage on major broadcast networks, REI sees nonprofit news as a critical force for outdoor and environmental reporting in America. “Communities increasingly count on nonprofit newsrooms for coverage of the environment and news of the outdoors,” said Sue Cross, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News in the announcement. In addition to the donation to NewsMatch, REI is also retiring its catalog and replacing it with a new magazine called Uncommon Path, published by Hearst Magazines, it announced.
Partners like REI are a valued part of the NewsMatch program.
The retailer has for years given grants to local conservation and environmental groups who are building trails and helping get more people outside. This donation to support environmental reporting recognizes that caring about our public lands and wild places also means caring about and supporting the independent journalists who cover those topics. As evidence for this, REI points to a 2018 research paper which found that corporations pollute more when there aren’t local newspapers to hold them accountable.
Stories by nonprofit news organizations on the environment and outdoors make a difference all year around. Last year, we highlighted 22 of the best, including local news outlets that shined in informing and equipping their communities through their reporting:
- InvestigateWest laid bare the inadequacy of the tree-protection ordinance in Seattle, the decade’s fastest-growing big city in the U.S. When a supposedly stricter replacement was proposed, InvestigateWest’s reporting revealed its inadequacies and it was withdrawn to be strengthened.
- The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting highlighted the backdoor conversations between the agribusiness company Monsanto and federal and state EPA officials on changes to the use label of a pesticide — a version of which was made by Monsanto — that caused damage to millions of acres of crops in 2017 and 2018.
- ecoRI News has covered the contentious issue of solar siting in Rhode Island, where forest is being cleared to make room for utility-scale solar projects. The reporting led to a larger conversation about solar siting in the state, and a stakeholder group is working on a comprehensive plan to address industrial-scale solar-siting issues.
By partnering with NewsMatch, REI will be supporting local environmental and outdoor coverage while also protecting the editorial independence of each of the newsrooms. NewsMatch provides a firewall between the funding and the reporting, and provides hundreds of hours of training and capacity building to help local journalists strengthen their fundraising abilities. This means that the REI donation will help expand local reporting right now, and support the sustainability of those nonprofit newsrooms to continue doing this work long into the future.
Partners like REI are a valued part of the NewsMatch program. They help us focus support and bring new funding to newsrooms who are in specific regions or covering key topics. We invite foundations and businesses who care about local news and investigative reporting to get in touch to learn more about how they can support nonprofit news through NewsMatch.
NewsMatch 2019 is open to nonprofit news organizations who are active members of the Institute for Nonprofit News. In 2018, 154 newsrooms in 42 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., participated in NewsMatch’s national matching-gifts campaign from November 1 to December 31.
In 2019, nearly 200 newsrooms will participate in NewsMatch, and we are working to raise another $2 million to match individual donations to those newsrooms. In the last three years NewsMatch has raised more than $15 million for local news. If you are interested in supporting the program, please contact NewsMatch project director Jason Alcorn at email@example.com.