The Shoestring is an independent news publication in Western Massachusetts that provides in-depth and accurate journalism covering local politics, culture, and power. Founded in 2017, The Shoestring works to fill the growing gaps we see in local news coverage in our region as corporate-owned media continue to shed the staff necessary to produce labor-intensive investigations, local government accountability reporting, and coverage of other overlooked topics such as policing, housing, education, labor, and the environment, to name a few. And importantly, we believe that emerging local writers with a desire to cover the place they live are worth training and mentoring.

Funding from the Markham Nathan Fund for Social Justice will be directed towards enterprise reporting on environmental issues in Western Massachusetts. Having reported our share of stories on the environment and climate over the years, we have noticed that these stories often demand a level of research, and sometimes expertise, that far outstrips the average freelance story. To pay reporters fairly to produce these stories requires a reserve of funds to make an occasional four-figure commission — more than we typically spend on freelance stories in an entire month. We look forward to producing reporting using these funds that digs deep into data, uplifts the voices of stakeholders, and gets to the heart of the local implications of the climate crisis and what we can do to confront it head on.” Brian Zayatz, The Shoestring