2020-2021 Annual Report

20 Years of

Living Our Values

Truthout is committed to a vision of journalism in pursuit of justice. We understand that courageous journalism can and does drive social transformation. Through our work, we reveal systemic injustice; provide a platform for powerful ideas; elevate authentic storytelling; and develop journalistic practices that align with our dedication to accountability, equity and integrity.

We believe in building the world we want to live in — within our organization, through our journalistic work and through our work’s impact on society. For more on our editorial approach, please read Remaking Media in the Pursuit of Justice and A Call to the Media: Let’s Go Beyond “Preserving Democracy.”

True Independence

Producing truly independent media means there is no corporate or government influence over what gets published — that’s hard to come by these days. At Truthout, we do not accept a single cent from corporate “partners” or advertisers, we are not owned by anyone and we have never been part of a media conglomerate.

Instead, Truthout has been funded by readers since the beginning. In FY2020, 82 percent of our budget was made up of individual donations — and the average donation was just $24!

Citations by other media and organizations


Truthout Wins
Izzy Award!

The 2020 Izzy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Media was shared by Truthout and reporters Liliana Segura at The Intercept and Tim Schwab writing for The Nation. The judges commented: "Through the year of social distancing, Truthout proved that journalists need not be distant from the people hardest hit by the pandemic, including prisoners and ICE detainees."

Struggle and Solidarity

We launched our series, "Struggle and Solidarity: Writing Toward Palestinian Liberation," because we can’t look away from settler-colonial violence against Palestinians — or the growing movement for a free Palestine.

The Policing of Pain: Inside the Deadly War on Opioids

This new series follows the drug war into the pharmacy and the doctor’s office.

Climate Front Lines

In this new monthly podcast, host Mike Ludwig explores the front lines of the climate crisis with news and perspectives from experts and activists on the ground.

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Audiobook

Our book, Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?, about police violence and the people's resistance in the United States is now available on Audible!

Editorial Highlights

Although our work was already focused on exposing injustice and inspiring action, we refocused a lot of our original coverage on how the pandemic impacted (and continues to impact) people’s lives, particularly the ways in which working-class and otherwise marginalized people were disproportionately impacted. 

We delved into what the situation might portend for our future amid deepening climate catastrophe. And we documented the ways in which the spread of the coronavirus accelerated in prisons, jails and immigrant detention. Through analyses and podcasts, we spotlighted the ways in which the Trump administration leveraged this crisis to promote both overt racism and fascist policy measures — and we highlighted ways in which we could mobilize to oppose that push.

Yes, mobilization has been possible, and it’s been happening! We called on reporters and movement leaders to write about the community-based mutual aid projects, policy advocacy, electoral reforms and new organizing strategies that offered some hope in the most grim moments. We aimed to amplify those efforts amid the torrent of bad news, because we knew the air was ripe for transformation.

Economy & Labor

Education & Youth

Culture & Media

Environment & Health

  • Staff reporter Mike Ludwig continued Truthout's long legacy of fracking coverage, keeping our readers up to date on the fights against fossil fuel pipelines such as the embattled Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry massive amounts of fracked gas across the Appalachian mountains; and the latest science about the dangers of fracking, such as the new study that found evidence of harmful chemicals accumulating in the bodies of people, especially children, living near fracking wells in communities inundated by fossil fuel development.
  • Frances Madeson followed activism in the Gulf South, reporting on the men in the solitary confinement wards at the Louisiana State Penitentiary whose hunger strike was met with reprisals such as being “sprayed down” with mace within an enclosed cell block. She also spoke with and wrote about young Sunrise Movement activists during their 400-mile march to demand a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) bill, and a future in which their generation can survive and thrive.
  • Staff reporter and editor Candice Bernd kept the intersection between climate justice and racial justice front and center throughout 2020 and 2021. After she lost power and water during the statewide electric grid failure in Texas, Bernd exposed the disproportionate impact on communities of color in the state. She then traveled to Northern Minnesota in the spring to chronicle Indigenous Water Protectors' fight against Enbridge's Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Bernd was the first in the national media to report on the connection between the pipeline, the increased incidence of sexual assault, and the human rights crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigneous Women and Girls in those communities. Writing from the banks of Anishinaabe Water Protector Winona LaDuke's new resistance camp at Shell River, Bernd explored the treaty rights strategy of tribes in a deep narrative feature. She continued to cover the direct action campaign against the pipeline as standoffs escalated across multiple treaty encampments that summer.
  • Candice Bernd also investigated the ways in which right-wing and libertarian groups along with then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos exploited the pandemic to push a privatized model of "microschools," revealing the ways in which the model would widen an already dire racial gap in public education. She traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to write another story for the series about how border activists were linking their struggle against Trump's border wall to the fight to defund police, calling for the federal funds being allocated for the wall to be used instead to address the COVID crisis in what was then one of the nation's most severe hot spots.
  • Daniel Ross wrote about the impact of wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon, providing insight into how the right-wing Bolsonaro government’s deregulation and commercial exploitation of the rainforest goes hand-in-hand with climate disaster.
  • As millions of Americans lost their health insurance during the pandemic, Margaret Flowers wrote about the urgent need for Medicare for All, and exposed Biden’s health plan as yet another extension of the medical-industrial complex. By exploring the ways that the Affordable Care Act serves to enrich private health insurers and derail meaningful health care reform, Flowers laid out how Biden’s health plan would only continue to shift more public dollars into private hands -- and how a for-profit health care system will always be a detriment to the public good.

Despair and Disparity: The Uneven Burdens of COVID-19

We are immensely proud of all the journalism we put out in FY 2020, but we're perhaps proudest of our coverage at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our series Despair and Disparity: The Uneven Burdens of COVID-19 now contains more than 280 original articles (which have been read 1,266,120 times!) covering the political, economic, environmental and racial aspects of the pandemic in order to highlight the injustices baked into the pandemic’s impacts. 

We knew that even if the trend of a dramatically decreased COVID presence continues, the pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts will linger, particularly in working-class, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, immigrant, disabled and aging communities. That's why Truthout will continue to track the grassroots movements that emerged out of the pandemic, such as mutual aid drives, labor struggles -- including among gig workers, teachers, medical workers, and domestic workers -- health care advocacy and, of course, the resurgence of the movement for Black lives. 

Some of the stories in this series featured: reporting by incarcerated people (including Lacino Hamilton, Joseph Dole and Christopher Blackwell) and mothers of prisoners (including Rosemary Cade, Armanda Shackelford and Regina Russell) about the torture-like conditions in COVID-laden prisons; Mike Ludwig’s reporting on the surge in overdoses during the pandemic — and how the DEA contributed to it; Victoria Law’s investigations into COVID’s rapid spread in women’s prisons and Ella Fassler’s coverage of COVID-driven prisoner uprisings; Jen Deerinwater's report on how the historic oppression of Native people worsens the pandemic’s effects on their communities; Ella Fassler, Alex Ferrer, Terra Graziani and Jacob Woocher’s coverage of the abandonment of unhoused people (and police disruption of aid to unhoused people) amid COVID; Jack Herrera's report on how close quarters have intensified the virus in ICE detention; Leanna First-Arai’s coverage of the persistence of pipeline construction against the protests of Indigenous communities, even during the economic shutdown; and Sharon Zhang’s reporting on the complicity of Trump’s EPA in worsening asthma-causing pollution that increases COVID vulnerability.

Human Rights


LGBTQ Rights

Politics & Elections

Prisons & Policing

Racial Justice

Reproductive Rights

War & Peace



The coming year offers us a chance to both recommit to our roots in investigative reporting and imagine exciting new possibilities for how to lift up the work of grassroots movements and visionary paths forward. With the midterms on the horizon, we’ll be doubling down on coverage of racist voter suppression, gerrymandering, and electoral injustice. We also aim to zero in on economic injustice, including the growing wealth gap, the influence of billionaires, and the intersections of racism and classism. We have big plans to chronicle the rising unionization efforts around the country, at large corporations and small organizations alike. And we will rededicate ourselves to illuminating new developments in the climate crisis and the movements to confront it. Meanwhile, we will continue our award-winning coverage of the pandemic’s disparate impacts and offer visions for a transformed future – visions that keep us going, even in the bleakest of times.

But we can’t do this work without your help. We are facing considerable challenges as Facebook and Google have altered their algorithms to reduce the amount of political content on their platforms. This is directly impacting the reach and visibility of thousands of activists, writers and thinkers at a time when honest, independent journalism is crucially needed.

Supporting Our Work

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Whether you can give $10 a month or $50,000 a year, your gift provides the kind of sustainable funding publications like ours need to survive, and ensures we can continue amplifying the voices of activists, scientists, scholars and truth-tellers from across the nation.

Visit truthout.org/donate to explore the many ways you can contribute. Thank you!