Award-winning reporter Annie Ropeik will join the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk as Assistant Director in May 2022. Ropeik brings a decade of experience covering the environment for public radio stations and regional collaboratives across the country. Most recently she worked as an environment and climate change reporter for Spectrum News Maine.
“I’m so excited to join the Ag & Water Desk because I see it as an ideal model for supporting and expanding local environmental journalism, in a time and place where these stories are more important than ever,” said Ropeik.
The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk is a collaborative reporting network providing in-depth journalism and communication about water, agriculture and environmental issues across the Mississippi River Basin, based at the Missouri School of Journalism. The editorially independent project is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation, in addition to other funders. Ten reporters, hired in collaboration with Report for America, will begin working at the Desk’s 10 partner news outlets June 1. The Desk will then begin distributing coverage, free of charge, to news outlets for publication.
“We can’t wait to begin telling those stories that connect the basin,” said Sara Shipley Hiles, executive director of the Desk. “Our team is almost fully assembled, and once the reporters start in June, we’ll be rolling. Annie is a strong journalist and an excellent addition to our team.”
In her part-time role, Ropeik will help the Desk share its stories far and wide – through building out its distribution system and sending alerts to subscribers when content is ready for publication. She will also assist Editorial Director Tegan Wendland in planning trainings, creating training materials and editing stories as needed.
Ropeik has covered Superfund sites and the agricultural economy in Indiana and Delaware, fisheries and shipping in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, and climate change and drinking water issues in New England. She created New Hampshire Public Radio’s climate desk, By Degrees, and led special climate coverage for the New England News Collaborative. Her work has appeared on NPR, the CBC, BBC and podcasts such as Outside/In and How to Save a Planet.
“I love forging newsroom partnerships, helping early-career reporters grow and finding ways to innovate on this beat,” said Ropeik. “The Desk will do all of this and more in a way I hope will be an example for our industry and a huge service to people and newsrooms in the basin.”