Southerly is an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 media organization that serves communities in the South who face environmental injustice and are most at-risk of the effects of climate change. We do this by equipping them with the journalism, resources, and information they need to make their communities healthier and safer, to hold power to account, and to have agency over their future.
As this region changes—environmentally, economically, politically, demographically—we hope this work can help make it a more informed, equitable, healthy, and beautiful place to live.
We believe all Southerners deserve accurate information and beautiful stories they can see themselves represented in.
People impacted by the issues we cover are experts of their own lives and should have agency over their own stories—and be treated with respect, always.
Our work is impossible without collaboration—both with other local news outlets throughout the South, and with civic institutions, nonprofits, and other organizations that community members trust.
Stories about climate change and other environmental issues should meet people where they’re at, while providing context, connecting the dots between places and people, and offering real-life experiences.
The journalism landscape is changing just as quickly as our natural and built landscapes. That means we are always learning, evolving, and responding to what we hear from readers we serve.
The South is a special, and complex, place. Its landscapes—the ancient, rolling hills of East Kentucky, the rich soil of the Black Belt, the enchanting coastal marshes of Louisiana—are world renowned, yet relatively unprotected. They are full of Indigenous peoples’ history, culture, and livelihood, but there is little recognition of these sovereign nations and the lands forcibly taken from them. In this region, we have some of the most biodiverse ecosystems and the most deserted news ecosystems. Our residents—mostly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people—are bearing the brunt and will lose the most from extreme weather, heat, and flooding, but those in power have done the least to stop it. Our economy is drastically transitioning as the nation moves away from greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, and yet little has been done to ensure a just economic transition for these communities and workers.
Southerly started as a weekly email newsletter in Dec. 2016. Our dedication to telling fuller stories about the region and highlighting overlooked issues won trust and credibility from people who understand the nuances of this region, but are often ignored by national media: longtime activists, students getting involved in political and social movements, and more conservative folks. In mid-2018, we launched as an independent publication, and have been producing in-depth, investigative, and public service journalism ever since.
From the get-go, our mission has been to tell stories no one else is telling, and ensure that our newsroom is representative of the whole South. Historically, journalism has been exploitative and extractive, and it has harmed people by oversimplifying stories, leaving out context, and relying on stereotypes. And those telling the stories have been overwhelmingly white, male, and affluent. By partnering with local news outlets and community organizations, the journalism we produce reflects and reaches the people it’s about. We work with folks in places without consistent, accurate news to get information they haven’t been able to access: What do I need to do before hurricane season? How do I contact FEMA? How do I test my water for contaminants? What do I need to know about this industrial development project in my neighborhood?
Since we know environmental issues well, we help turn those questions into impactful and lasting journalism that folks can use to make informed decisions. We’ve evolved a lot in the last year by participating in various programs, hosting listening sessions in rural communities, and surveying our staff, board, and readers. Instead of just producing journalism online, we’ve moved into a space of community outreach and organizing by sharing information and resources through community centers like libraries and churches, in ways that make sense for the people we’re serving. For one, it may be a story; for another, a printed newsletter; and another, a radio program.
But the value of journalism for our communities, our livelihoods, and our democracy, lies in what we can give. Stories, so you can see yourselves represented and know you’re not alone. Tools, so you can learn how to get information that should be public, learn how to more effectively navigate bureaucratic systems, put pressure on leaders who should be serving you. Guidance, to help you navigate the difficult and often scary changes to our ecosystems and places, while still remembering that this world is magical and beautiful. Access, to places and people and systems designed to make sure you are kept out.
Read more here about how we’re working to serve communities in the South.