Exciting news from The Appeal

Dear Friends and Allies:

I hope this message finds you doing well under the circumstances. I am writing to share some very exciting news about The Appeal.

As you know, our project focuses on the issues that keep everyday people up at night—especially the politics and policies that matter most to those who have the least. Founded in 2018 as a news organization covering the criminal legal system, The Appeal has grown into a multi-issue outlet producing rigorous reporting and analysis that is regularly cited by leading policymakers, journalists, scholars, and advocates. In addition to mass incarceration and policing, our coverage has expanded to include housing and homelessness, economic stability, climate change, and other policies affecting our most vulnerable communities.

Today, we are announcing a major expansion of The Appeal’s newsroom and product offerings, including the launch of a daily news show, Appeal Live, which will be streamed in partnership with NowThis on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The show—which began as The Briefing in April 2020—regularly exceeds a quarter million views per episode and has featured guests including Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Stacey Abrams.

We are also introducing The Lab (formerly The Justice Collaborative Institute), which produces original research, explainers, and policy analysis from the nation’s top scholars and thinkers. In partnership with Data For Progress, The Lab will regularly conduct and publish public opinion polling to gauge support for critical progressive policies. The Point, set to launch on Inauguration Day, will be an editorial page for the social web, telling the story of how policy, politics, and the legal system shape the lives of everyday people in America through a product focused on getting to … the point. Together with our terrific team that produces original reporting, as well as ongoing features like The Political Report, The Appeal aims to expand the depth and breadth of its coverage to better inform its active following.

The rest of our team, which to date has been working as The Justice Collaborative, will now be folded into The Appeal. Because of our mission-driven focus, their work — communications, research, and audience engagement — helps to make sure that coverage gets in front of decision-makers and opinion leaders, leading to further salience and support for policy changes. In other words, they will be working to make sure that the people who most shape the political conversation have our work in their hands and are able to use it.

We’re making this shift because we realized that creating media is where we were doing our most effective work and also the area where we could bring the most value. Ultimately, we realized that in order to get the most out of our theory of change, we needed to “go all in” on our media work. Our vision is an America where stability and dignity are within everyone’s reach.

We believe that rigorous coverage of the issues that keep everyday people up at night makes it possible for decision-makers and others in power to have the information they need to put stability and dignity within everyone’s reach. Thus, our theory of change continues to be:

  • Stick to stories where rigorous reporting and analysis would contribute to exponentially more stability or safety for everyday people. 
  • Focus relentlessly on identifying and explaining the patterns across geographies and levels of government, connecting the dots between seemingly isolated policy and political developments.
  • Tell these stories repeatedly and through different types of products: reported articles and commentary; daily live talk shows; policy papers, explainers, and robust issue polling; and a straight-to-the-point editorial page that tells leaders what they need to know and how to talk about it.
  • Package this coverage and put it in the hands of the people who are best positioned to use it to create change. This increases salience and support for the issue, shaping the context in which leaders make decisions. (Notably, we will continue to make sure that stories are placed in the best media outlet for that story, even if it’s not at The Appeal.)
  • As these leaders make political and policy changes on the issue, it leads to more coverage, which leads to more outreach, building even more momentum for the issue or policy.

Thank you so much for your continued support through this exciting transition. If you have any questions at all, please reach out! And if you have any ideas for stories or themes we should be covering, we’d love to hear from you.


Rob Smith
Executive Director, The Appeal

P.S. In case you missed it, here are several case studies from 2020 that we think illustrate the kind of work that The Appeal is excited to do in 2021 and beyond.