2024 Media Award in Food Reporting: Gothamist

by NYC Food Policy Editor

Started over 20 years ago as a local new source — in, of, and for New York City — and now operating through New York Public Radio, Gothamist is a survivor in a media scene that can often miss the trees for the forest. Democracy and civic engagement only function as well as the public as the public is informed. In this regard, Gothamist’s relentless and unflinching reporting on hunger, inequity, and climate in New York City is vital to the very fabric of our politics, especially as it applies to food policy.

We ourselves rely on the Gothamist’s reporting at the Center for our weekly Food Policy Watch newsletter, and know that so many more of us rely on their coverage to keep abreast on the state of everything — from our senior care, to our transit needs, to the rats in our streets. For all this, we are honored to recognize Gothamist with our 2024 Media Award.

Gothamist’s staff was kind enough to take the time to speak with us about this food and food policy reportage, and its importance in establishing an equitable food system.

Which story this year in the arena of food and food policy felt most important for the staff at Gothamist? Which one was most impactful?
Our newsroom’s mission is to “Make New York work for New Yorkers” by meeting the news and information needs of our readers and listeners and telling the story of how we live now. Accessibility and affordability were recurring themes in our food coverage this year as New Yorkers navigated inflation and the potential effects of city-wide budget cuts.

This included covering potential cuts to public school meals and emergency food programs – both of which are options families across the city increasingly depend on. It also meant highlighting ways for New Yorkers to find deals on high-quality produce in every borough and getting to know the people and histories behind long-standing affordable and diverse food options. 

Why is good food reportage important in the current social and political climate of New York? Why is it important that this reportage is local?
Everyone needs food, but access isn’t equitable across our city. This isn’t a new issue, but as the city continues to recover from the pandemic and navigate budget pressures, it is more visible. 

New York’s diversity, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit makes it one of the best food cities in the world. It’s one of the reasons why it’s great to live here and it’s also how many people make a living. But that belies how difficult it can be for some to find affordable food options for themselves and their families. 

We want to help our audience to make informed decisions on what they eat and how to navigate options for support in accessing food. It’s also critical that we report on local environmental impacts, including how the changing climate affects people who work on the farms in our region as well as how the city manages and funds food waste collection.

Food is politics. Food is the zeitgeist. Food is how we relate to our cultures and each other. It is a unifying topic that brings together all the things that affect our lives and futures.

How has the landscape of food and policy reporting changed over the past five years?
The pandemic surfaced how crucial certain systems are for food security in our city.  It also prompted drastic changes to the industry, including outdoor dining and a reliance on delivery options and workers, that we continue to report on today. 

As journalists, we felt it was our responsibility to dive deeper into the challenges that were coming to light and explore how that affects issues like schoolchildren’s ability to learn, the conditions for food delivery workers, and the economic conditions that forced many businesses to shutter their doors. 

And as the city reopened over the last few years, and the restaurant industry is once again finding its footing, we see our audience wanting to know more about where to go, what to eat, and the people and stories behind businesses.  Food remains an integral part of the culture of New York. 

What’s for breakfast in the newsroom?
Our office is luckily surrounded by a lot of options, including delis, grocery stores and take out spots. Our staff is also full of great chefs who enjoy bringing in food to share.

What’s the favorite staff meal at Gothamist?
Election-night pizza is a classic. 

What is everyone’s favorite food hangout?
“The Hub”: The area in the newsroom where our on-air shows are produced and where colleagues share snacks and homemade goods. 

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