Who We Are
We produce reporting and analysis that public officials, journalists, advocates, and scholars use to solve the problems that keep everyday people up at night.
Our vision is an America where stability and dignity are within everyone’s reach. We tell stories about the barriers that stand in the way of that goal—and the solutions needed to make it happen—through original reporting, commentary, explainers, live shows and events, white papers and other reports, newsletters, and podcasts.
The Appeal elevates under-covered local stories of national relevance and connects the dots to similar developments in other jurisdictions. We focus relentlessly on the stories, policy ideas, and emerging patterns across geographies and levels of government, including federal developments. We identify trends that might otherwise be missing from coverage.
We work to get that coverage in front of decision-makers and opinion leaders who can use it to make a difference, and we cover subsequent movement on these issues, building momentum for change. We define our success in how public officials, advocates, academics, and other journalists meaningfully engage with our work.
Meet the Team
- Meg O’Connor, Senior Reporter
- Ethan Corey, Senior Fact Checker and Researcher
- Brooks Emanuel, Social Media Editor and Senior Legal Analyst
- Jerry Iannelli, Senior Reporter
- Josh Vaughn, Senior Reporter
- Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, Senior Reporter
- Jay Willis, Senior Contributor and Senior Legal Analyst
- Emily Galvin-Almanza, Senior Legal Analyst and Host
- Alon Gur, Editor
- Alana Sivin, Senior Legal Analyst and Host
- Mariah Williams-Roberts, Production Manager
- Nick Wing, Editor
- Erik Shute, Producer
- Kendra Pittman, Producer
- Bilal Baydoun, Editor
- Molly Bernstein, Editor
- Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, Senior Editor
- Justin Levinson, Editorial Director, The Lens
- Seanniece Bamiro, Analyst
- Molly Greene, Analyst
- John Mathews, Senior Analyst
- Brandi McNeil, Senior Analyst
- Anna Kurien, Senior Analyst
- Sarah Silins, Analyst
- Emily Wonder, Associate
Audience Engagement Team
- Chastity Murphy, Senior Analyst
- Nikki Scott, Associate
- Olivia Shields, Associate
- Sarah Clements, Communications Associate
- Nick Gavio, Communications Associate
- Ravi Mangla, Senior Communications Analyst
- Natalie Pryor, Design and Publications Coordinator
- Jessica Murphy, Operations Manager
- Jack Fresquez, Research Assistant
How We Measure Success
Our metrics for success flow from our theory of change: We tell stories repeatedly and through different lenses (for example: white papers and reports, polling memos, reporting and commentary, streaming and produced video), repackage them, and put them in the hands of the people who are best positioned to use them to create change. This increases the salience and centrality of these issues for our core audience of public officials, journalists, advocates, and academics, which, in turn, shapes how those leaders make decisions.
To gauge progress, we use citations as a proxy for how often our work is used by our core audience. A citation could be a reference in a New York Times article or editorial or a Politico Playbook newsletter. It could be a U.S. Senator who thoughtfully analyzes our work in a social media post. It could be a reference in newly enacted legislation or policy. Or it could be a citation in a Governor’s press release or a Color of Change petition. But surface level engagement such as a like, a retweet, or a share does not count.
We focus especially on tracking citations within coverage bursts, which reflect the traction of our storytelling on an issue told through multiple lenses such as reporting, commentary, analysis, polling, and live video segments. Here’s a recent case study on the policing crisis, for example. We know that only a handful of the projects we choose each year will gain the kind of traction that we’d put into a case study, but we focus almost exclusively on topics that we think have the potential to result in something we’d include as a case study, meaning that it can be told through our various lenses, be told repetitively, and result in meaningful political or policy change.
To promote transparency and hold ourselves accountable, we will post our 2021 objectives and key results before the end of January.
To gauge this progress, we focus on both production metrics and impact metrics. In an effort to promote transparency and hold ourselves accountable, we will post our 2021 objectives and key results by the end of January 2021. These are our key metrics:
Our production metrics are set at the overall organization level, by vertical, and by staff member.
Our impact metrics are divided into three categories: Overall audience; core audience; and coverage bursts.
- Overall audience: This measures the total number of views on our website and of our video products, and our social media following.
- Core Audience: We track how often our work is cited in the media, meaningfully engaged with by key academics, advocates, electeds, and reporters, and referenced or incorporated into legislation and policy.
- Coverage Bursts: We strive for coverage bursts, which reflect the traction of our storytelling on an issue told through multiple mediums such as reporting, commentary, analysis, polling, and live video segments.
How We Work
OUR PITCH PROCESS
A foundational aspect of how we do our work at The Appeal is to tell stories and ideas through different lenses (e.g. reporting, commentary, a white paper, a produced video), which requires highly coordinated, rapid productivity across verticals. To create this disciplined alignment in a fast changing environment we rely on a centralized decision-making process. However, to ensure that we are getting the best ideas and angles, we are a high context and extremely high feedback organization. Please see our pitch form, which details what we look for in pitches, and our pitch process, which is the blueprint for how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
- Coverage Priorities. In consultation with the President, Editor-in-Chief, Managing Director, Director of Editorial Strategy, and vertical editors, the Executive Director sets coverage priorities each Thursday for the following week, or as appropriate. Some of these priorities will last for more than a month; others will last only a week. If an issue is a priority, it means that we want to publish as many good products on that topic as possible.
- Pitching. Anyone can pitch ideas for products or a set of products through the pitch form (note: you don’t need to be at The Appeal to pitch us stories via this form!). Pitches should either be within the coverage priorities or an important opportunity within our larger set of coverage values.
- Pitch Comments. After an initial review by the Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief, pitches under consideration will go into a document for anyone in the organization to see. Some truly time-sensitive pitches, or pitches involving sensitive exclusives, will be immediately approved so we can move quickly. All others–the vast majority–will be provided for everyone to review and provide comments. We’re always happy for missing angles or product ideas. This is also a time to raise counter-arguments about why we shouldn’t approve the pitch. Counter-arguments are incredibly helpful for thinking through and prioritizing the pitches, so raise them even if you love the pitch.
- Meetings. We’ll have a pitch meeting every Monday, a follow-up meeting on Tuesday, and a round-up meeting on Thursday. The pitch meeting will usually focus on discussing key pitches relating to the coverage priority areas. The follow-up meeting will focus on any outstanding pitches, and any organizational documents or processes that need to be reviewed or altered. The round-up meeting will focus on successes achieved and challenges faced by verticals and teams during the week.
- Approval & Assignment. Based on input and other information, the Executive Director will approve ideas and assign products and research with as much detail and clarity as possible from the outset. Any changes to assignments must be approved by the Executive Director, Managing Director, or Editor-in-Chief.
- Post-Assignment. The editor managing the vertical is responsible for the execution of the product. The Director of Editorial Strategy will work to ensure alignment across the verticals, as well as provide support for verticals and specific products. Both the Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief can veto any product or part of a product and have an opportunity to review or edit products. Neither need to approve products before they go out. In general, it’s better to do autopsy meetings to hone and improve than to slow down products before they are published.
- Transparency. The Chief Products Officer will assure that the entirety of the pitch and assignment processes are running smoothly and that all teams understand and have complete transparency regarding the ideas and products they may touch.
- Outreach. The Communications team and the Audience Engagement team will work with the rest of the teams to help devise outreach plans for products across The Appeal. Their outreach also will generate new pitch ideas, which will be an essential part of the cyclical process we’re creating.
$1,000,000 AND OVER:
- Open Philanthropy
- Meadow Fund
- Ballmer Group
- Chan Zuckerberg
$500,000 AND OVER:
- Schusterman Foundation
- Vanguard Charitable
$250,000 AND OVER:
- Vital Projects
- Galaxy Gives
$100,000 AND OVER:
- Barton Family Fund
- MacArthur Foundation
- Mountain Philanthropy
- Solidarity Giving
$50,000 AND OVER:
- Bank of America
$10,000 AND OVER:
- Robert and Maurine Rothschild Fund