Sonoma County journalist Naomi Starkman of the popular food system blog Civil Eats has been named a 2015 James S. Knight Fellow. The prestigious award is given each year to just 20 individuals worldwide to study a particular issue facing the media. Starkman will spend her time looking at how to make food policy news part of readers’ daily diet.
“My goal is to explore ways in which Civil Eats—and all online publications—will survive in this rapidly changing media landscape while making sure that award-winning, independent journalism stays alive,” she said. Amen, sister.
In an editorial on her website she wrote, “Journalism and agriculture are two sides of the same coin: Both have been made artificially cheap. We have come to expect free media, just as many expect to be able to buy a dozen eggs for under $3.00.
But lack of social investment in both of these public goods is leading us down the wrong path…buying healthier, sustainably produced food helps keep the environment cleaner, ensures that farm animals and workers are treated better, and leads to better personal health outcomes,” adding, “But investing in well-crafted reporting and thoughtful commentary is equally important in a world of listicles, sponsored content, sensational headlines, and dumbed-down aggregation.”
The fellowship is based at Stanford, where journalism and technology are being carefully studied. It’s also geographically between the Central Valley — the farming capital of the nation — and Silicon Valley. “This ideal location foments solutions to this food journalism question and is the perfect place for me to incubate Civil Eats as I mine its myriad assets,” she said. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with.