Mission

People don’t trust the news media, and it’s easy to see why. Major news media organizations reported inaccurately that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They dismissed as a “debunked conspiracy theory” the real possibility that COVID-19 could have escaped from a lab. And they have perpetuated misleading narratives around everything from rainforest destruction to biological sex to crime.

And so we started Public. Our mission is to break big stories on the most important issues of the day, from censorship and cities to mental health and addiction to energy and the environment. This About page describes our ethics and provides contact information for our principal staff and freelancers.

In our short history, we have broken major stories, including on: the role of US and UK military and intelligence officials in creating the Censorship Industrial Complex; the wind industry’s threat to North Atlantic right whales; government censorship of Facebook; the origins of COVID-19; the cover-up of the origins of COVID-19; UFO/UAP whistleblowers; the World Economic Forum’s secretive agenda; San Francisco’s illegal drug consumption site the Twitter Files and the FBI; and Paul Pelosi’s alleged attacker.

In 2023, Public was honored to share the Dao Journalism Prize with Racket and The Free Press for our work on the Twitter Files.

Ethics

The founders and staff of Public hold ourselves to the highest journalistic and ethical standards. We follow the facts wherever they lead, regardless of ideological, financial, or political concerns. We name and link to claims whenever possible and will provide direct access to source material when appropriate. We believe in, and are in compliance with, the Society of Professional Journalists’ four-part Code of Ethics and with Newsguard’s nine-part Reliability Rating.

We believe that we have, as reporters, an obligation to serve as watchdogs over powerful institutions, individuals, and attitudes. We believe it’s in the public interest for issues affecting the public to be reported upon and debated openly and without fear. We support the free and civil exchange of information and views.

We are concerned by what is called “misinformation,” “disinformation,” and “malinformation,” as well as the way governments and unaccountable private actors have used them as predicates for demanding censorship. We thus seek to debunk frequently-repeated misinformation in the first part of our articles, which we give away for free before any paywall. And we have taken a public stand in support of strong free speech standards worldwide.

Fairness and Accuracy

We strive for accuracy. We aim to be first but will not sacrifice accuracy for speed. We believe context is everything and take care not to oversimplify or sensationalize.

We correct our stories immediately upon discovering errors, whether of fact or opinion, both here on this website and on Twitter. The founders of Public have written at length about our own errors and why we made them. Our Corrections Policy thus involves not simply correcting the error but also seeking to understand and avoid the reasons for the error in the first place and sharing those lessons with our readers.

We recognize that we are subjective and fallible human beings who are prone to confirmation bias. We thus seek to be aware of our assumptions and test them through fair and accurate reporting. In both news and opinion articles, we seek to “steel-man” two or more sides, making and answering the best possible argument of the other side.

Reliability

We hold ourselves to the highest standards for accuracy and reliability. We seek out the best-available evidence for every story. We seek out multiple, diverse, and contradictory sources. We have a preference for sources who can provide firsthand information.

We aim for the highest standards of journalistic professionalism. We seek a clear understanding with our sources about what is on the record, what is off, and what is on the background or not for attribution.

We avoid repeating hand-waving, speculation, or rumoring unless such things are necessary to a story and clearly indicated by the author. We aim for accuracy in all our text, including headlines and captions, and in our photography selection, graphics, and art.

We seek to treat all of our sources fairly and respectfully. We tell them immediately who we are and what we are doing. When we provide questions over email, we inform the recipient of what we intend to report so that they know what’s motivating our questions and what we are looking for.

We will seek to be empathic toward all who are impacted by our reporting and seek to use care when dealing with the mentally ill, minors, crime victims, and others who cannot consent to be public figures.

We protect our sources. We will help whistleblowers get their stories out and protect their anonymity. We follow the Pentagon Papers Principle, which holds that reporters have a duty to report information in the public’s interest to hear about, even if it angers powerful individuals in government or the private sector.

Financials

We are and will always be transparent about our revenues. We are entirely subscriber-funded. We have no outside investors and currently host no advertising. We are entirely owned by founder Michael Shellenberger and have no outside investors. We have no plan to accept any advertising in the future, but if we were to do so, we would immediately announce this change publicly.

Team

We provide the names, biographies, and contact information for all Public content creators. We require our authors to disclose to us any potential conflicts of interest so that we can avoid them. We welcome tips and pitches from anyone and promise to protect anonymity.

Michael Shellenberger, Founder

CONTACT: Twitter - DMs Open :: Encrypted Email

Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, Dao Journalism Prize-winner, Founder-President of Environmental Progress, Founder of Public, and the C.B.R. Chair of Politics, Censorship, and Free Speech at the University of Austin. He is the best-selling author of San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities (HarperCollins 2021) and Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (HarperCollins 2020). 

Michael has broken major stories, including on: the Twitter Files, for which he won the 2023 Dao Award for journalism; the Censorship Industrial Complex; San Francisco’s cash incentives for homelessness; the “Amazon Forest are the lungs of the world” myth; climate pseudoscience; climate anxiety; the U.S. government support for fracking; and forest management, climate change, and California’s fires.

Michael offers testimony as a journalist and policy expert to the U.S. Congress on a range of issues covering free speech, censorship, and the environment. He has testified on AI and censorship (September 2023); climate change and public health (April 2023); Big Tech censorship (March 2023); the Censorship Industrial Complex (March 2023); climate change and the global energy crisis (September 2022); Texas & California electrical grid failures (April 2021); climate change and agriculture (February 2021); climate change and health (August 2020); climate change and energy (July 2020); and nuclear energy (January 2020).

Michael lives in Berkeley, California. You can follow him on Twitter or email him by clicking here.

Leighton Woodhouse, Co-Founder

CONTACT: Twitter - DMs Open :: Encrypted Email

Leighton Woodhouse is a journalist and an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. He has written for numerous publications, including The Intercept, The New Republic, The Nation, Vice News, The Free Press, UnHerd, Real Clear Investigations, Tablet, and The Spectator.

He has produced dozens of short documentary videos for The Intercept, The Washington Post, PBS Frontline and other outlets, and directed two feature documentary films, one of which was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Before turning to journalism, Leighton was a union organizer in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. He has a Masters Degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley. He currently lives in Oakland.

Alex Gutentag

CONTACT: Twitter - DMs Open :: Encrypted Email

Alex Gutentag covers censorship, covid, and other issues. Before becoming a journalist, she worked in public schools for eight years, teaching Special Education in New York City and Oakland. She has written extensively about the social and economic impact of covid policies, the suppression of scientific debate, and the long-term consequences of school closures. In addition to reporting for Public, she is a columnist for Tablet magazine and a contributing editor for Compact magazine. 

Alex is originally from Oakland and currently lives in the Bay Area.

Zaid Jilani

CONTACT: Twitter - DMs Open :: Email

Zaid Jilani is a reporter who previously worked as a digital reporter for NewsNation. Before that, he was a staff reporter at a range of outlets, including The Intercept, AlterNet, and ThinkProgress. He is based in the Atlanta area.

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Reporting on humanity, civilization, and the environment.

People

Best-selling author, "Apocalypse Never" & "San Fransicko" : Dao Winner : Time, "Hero of Environment" : C.B.R Chair in Politics, Censorship, & Free Speech, UATX
Alex Gutentag is a journalist based in California.
Zaid Jilani is a reporter with Public who previously worked as a digital reporter for NewsNation. Before that, he was a staff reporter at a range of outlets, including The Intercept, AlterNet, and ThinkProgress. He is based in the Atlanta area.
Leighton is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Public.
Beige is a journalist based in Los Angeles, where she's covered politics, arts, culture, social issues and more for a variety of publications.