Relentless pursuit of climate accountability

Climate accountability — investigating the various drivers of delay on climate action — is critical to understanding and addressing climate change. Drilled News is an independent news outlet focused on climate accountability.

The Drilled podcast, launched in 2017, now has an audience of more than one million listeners worldwide, and is consistently among the top 100 science podcasts. Drilled has earned rave reviews from The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and received a 2019 “Excellence in Digital Storytelling” award from the Online News Association. Ian Frazier gave the podcast a shoutout in the December 2020 edition of his annual holiday poem in The New Yorker.

The Drilled News website launched in January 2020. Since April 2020, the Drilled News Climate and COVID-19 Policy Tracker has documented dozens of climate change-related rollbacks and industry favors by the Trump administration. The New Republic, The New Yorker, Vox and others have picked up the tracker in their ongoing coronavirus coverage.

The weekly HotTake newsletter, produced in collaboration with the HotTake podcast, launched in Spring 2020. HotTake brings you original commentary and analysis from podcast co-hosts Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt — with the same no-holds-barred, honest approach as our podcast — as well as rounds up the best climate coverage of the week. Subscribers get access to bonus podcast episodes, events, and our undying love.

If you would like to syndicate our reporting, or collaborate on a reporting project, please get in touch!

Drilled is a proud member of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

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: pitches [at] drillednews.com.

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 was Drilled News’ founding senior editor from January 2020 to February 2021. A longtime environmental journalist, Emily’s reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Popular Science, Audubon, Sierra, Reveal News/CIR, HuffPost, Arctic Deeply, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Grist, and more. Emily is a longtime member 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 Annaïse Heglar, co-author with Amy of the HotTake newsletter, is a well-respected climate justice essayist whose work has appeared in Vox, Wired, and Guernica.

James Wheaton conducts legal review of our investigative projects. He is Senior Counsel for the First Amendment Project, which he founded in 1991. Jim 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 and the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Funding

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.

We are actively seeking additional funding (holler!). 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 produced more than a dozen shows, generating advertising revenues and profit, some of which have been 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.

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.