Jun 2, 2020 - Economy

Pacific Standard finds a new home at Grist

Pacific Standard lighthouse with a "Grist" logo next to it

Grist, a 20-year-old nonprofit online magazine that focuses on climate and environmental coverage, has taking full ownership of all the assets of what's left of Pacific Standard, an award-winning magazine that closed in 2019.

Why it matters: Pacific Standard shut down in 2019 after its main backer, an academic publishing house, withdrew its funding, showcasing the risk that comes with quality journalism being funded without a reliable business model.

It's also a timely investment.

  • "One of the many reasons we were enthusiastic about taking on the Pacific Standard's archives and brand is its long history of reporting on social justice and race," says Grist CEO Brady Walkinshaw.

Details: "There is no cash component as a part of the deal from Grist," says Walkinshaw. "We're not purchasing it. We agreed to take it on to keep 12 years of work in the public domain."

  • Grist will be taking over 20,000+ stories from the Pacific Standard's archives, as well as all of its audio and video assets. The content still generates a small but notable monthly audience of 1 million readers per month, which still brings in a small amount of ad revenue as well ($2,000 - $3,000 monthly).
  • It's looking at relaunching the brand, and it plans to reinvest that revenue to grow its freelance budget to support reporters doing work on social and environmental justice.
  • Walkinshaw says Grist is committed to keeping the outlet public and free.

The big picture: Grist's takeover of Pacific Standard is a good example of how media companies of any size can help to support the great work of other outlets.

  • Grist is small, but its readers are hyper-loyal and its subject matter expertise, environmental justice, is becoming more important every day.
  • Over the years, it has broadened its scope to cover culture, politics and food systems — all related to climate change and environmentalism.
  • The company makes about $6.5 - $7 million in revenue annually from a variety of sources, including philanthropy, grants, membership fees, advertising and branded content sponsorships. Membership fees, while a small portion of the overall pie, have doubled in the past year.
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