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World Economic Forum features Mongabay’s work

Mongabay's founder and CEO Rhett Ayers Butler flying a drone in the Amazon rainforest in July 2023.

Mongabay's founder and CEO Rhett Ayers Butler flying a drone in the Amazon rainforest in July 2023.

  • Earlier this month the World Economic Forum released a short video that highlights Mongabay’s work.
  • The video features an interview with Mongabay’s Founder and CEO, Rhett Ayers Butler.
  • The video was published on the World Economic Forum’s website, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The World Economic Forum has featured the work of Mongabay.

In a recently published video, the World Economic Forum interviewed Rhett Ayers Butler, the Founder and CEO of Mongabay.

Butler discussed Mongabay’s evolution from its origins as a passion project focused on tropical rainforests to its current status as a multinational non-profit organization with nearly 100 staff members and around 1,000 contributing journalists from more than 70 countries.

“For the first several years of Mongabay, it was just me and my pajamas, working on articles,” Butler said. “[It was] a very small, modest operation.”

By the early 2010s, Butler had numerous ideas he wished to pursue that the advertising-based business model of Mongabay at the time could not support. To make these a reality, he established a non-profit organization.

This strategic shift allowed Butler to prioritize impact over monetizing traffic, enabling Mongabay to freely distribute its articles to other outlets for wider reach.

“I’ve never found any correlation between impact and page views. [Impact] comes from reaching the right people with the right information [at the right time]. It’s a totally different model.”

Mongabay’s main audience includes influential decision-makers across various sectors, from natural resource management agencies and conservation practitioners to funding organizations.

“Our goal is to reach key decision-makers and engage them in providing information to make decisions. We’re not telling people what to do or what to think.”

Butler also emphasized the importance of covering solutions to inspire hope and show that taking action is possible.

“For a long time people told me that Mongabay was the most depressing site on the Internet,” Butler said. “A lot of the topics that we cover can be really depressing.”

He noted a common focus in environmental journalism on problems rather than solutions.

“Sometimes when there’s a solution that’s 80% effective, and 20% not quite working, the tendency is to focus on the 20% that’s not working,” he said.

Solutions journalism, however, concentrates on what’s effective, recognizing issues as challenges that need to be surmounted.

“[Solutions journalism] requires almost investigative levels of research sometimes so you’re getting the story right.”

Butler stated that although a significant portion of Mongabay’s content is traditional news reporting and investigative journalism, the organization is consciously including more solutions-oriented stories, such as its series on Indigenous-led conservation, agroecology, and conservation technology.

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