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InsideClimateNews: A ‘David and Goliath’ Story for Digital Publishing

InsiderClimate News LogoEarlier this year, InsideClimate News won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting against 50-something other entrants, beating out both The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

How did they manage it? 

Editor & Publisher recently spoke with the editors behind the award-winning investigative piece, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of,” which took form as a narrative detailing the events of the 2010 Michigan oil spill. Reporters Elizabeth McGowan and Lisa Song spent seven months gathering information from the local residents, scientists and company involved with the spill.

This online-only, nonprofit news organization had to really work “with the elements,” said Susan White, the website’s executive editor — and she wasn’t referring to the natural ones. The team of only seven full-time journalists faced difficulties that any small, nonprofit organization is already well-aware of: money and resources.

In addition to these scarcities, InsideClimate News faced a unique challenge that most digital startups can quickly relate to. ”We are truly a virtual organization,” White said. “I am in San Diego, publisher David Sasson is in Brooklyn, and our reporters are in Washington, Boston and New York.”

Yet, being separated by state lines and time zones wasn’t the most difficult aspect of working on the piece. “We [had] no resources and little funding. Managing editor Stacy Feldman kept the site running, and there were a lot of days we didn’t have a new story to put up,” she said.

This ‘David and Goliath story,’ as coined by White’s husband, is proof that nonprofit, online-only pubs are doing more than just staying — they’re winning.

Read the full story on Editor & Publisher.

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