Photograph: Jean van der Meulen

Lots of exciting news, plus a call for pitches

Suddenly, everything is going very well. Plus, we want your stories!

Sophie Yeo
Sophie Yeo

It's been an unusually exciting couple of weeks at the Inkcap Journal HQ (aka my desk) and I want to share some of this news with you.

First, I am THRILLED to announce that we've been shortlisted in the British Journalism Awards 2021 in the energy and environmental journalism category.

This is a huge deal and an enormous honour. Seeing Inkcap Journal's name in that list, alongside the likes of Bloomberg, Channel 4 and the Guardian, absolutely took my breath away.

It's been just 19 months since I sent out our first story. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and I had zero budget and fewer than than 200 readers. This shortlisting validates what I always believed: that there is massive potential and appetite for in-depth nature journalism, and that there is a future for independent media.

Specifically, we've been shortlisted for our work on county councils and nature conservation, a series that we ran earlier this year. The features covered rewilding, road verge management, and ecological emergency declarations.

Secondly, Inkcap Journal has received its first ever grant! Thanks to the Pebble Trust, we now have £10,000 to spend on expanding our coverage of conservation issues in Scotland, and in particular in the Highlands and Islands, over the next year and a bit.

This is a total gamechanger. To date, our journalism has been entirely funded through reader subscriptions. There are about 750 members in total, and everything that we've produced so far has been directly thanks to them. (If you're one of them, thank you! If you want to become one, you can subscribe here – you'll receive our weekly digests as well as supporting our journalism.)

But there are lots of costs associated with running Inkcap Journal – publishing longform, in-depth journalism takes time and a lot of money. This grant will enable us to pursue some of the more ambitious projects that have been collecting dust at the back of my mind over the past year. I'm particularly excited about the geographic focus – so much writing focuses on England and the south, and this will be a real opportunity to highlight the important stories unravelling elsewhere.

This means that I am actively seeking ambitious and compelling pitches from journalists, focusing on the Highlands and Islands. I'm especially keen to hear from writers who actually live in the region. There are no urgent deadlines on this, but do get in touch if you think you might be interested in working together at some point. I will also be commissioning illustrators. Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested! (Separately, I am also always interested in pitches focusing on Wales.)

Who can guess the island?

Thirdly, we are shaking things up in terms of stories over the next few months. There are some really ambitious pieces in the works right now, and steering these towards publication is taking up all my time and, to be frank, all my budget. Rather than attempting to spread my resources too thinly, we will be publishing more sporadically for a little while, focusing on special features rather than regular missives.

The weekly digests will continue unchanged – and, on that note, I'm also very pleased to announce that Coreen Grant is now helping to write these every week.

She's been assisting on and off for a while now, when I've been particularly busy, but we've made it official. Coreen is super talented – she's currently covering COP26 as one of the BBC's Young Climate Reporters, and works for the British Antarctic Survey during the day – and I'm lucky to have her on board. It also means I get to finish work before 11pm on Thursdays, which is great. You can follow her on Twitter.

Anyway, that's everything from me. Hopefully, our first special feature will be winging its way to you shortly. And thanks again to all our paying members who have helped us get this far – none of these achievements would have been possible without you.

Sophie Yeo

Sophie Yeo is a writer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She is the founder and editor of Inkcap Journal.


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