Grist Reviews | Glassdoor

Grist Reviews

Updated August 29, 2017
18 reviews

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2.2
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Grist CEO Brady Piñero Walkinshaw
Brady Piñero Walkinshaw
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18 Employee Reviews

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  1. "We're moving forward"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Grist full-time

    Pros

    - Everyone at Grist is a brilliant, hard-working individual passionate about their work. There are no slackers that I've encountered, and everyone generally likes their job.

    - We get to do some really awesome work. The Grist brand is know by a passionate (albeit small) group of people passionate about environmentalism, so we mean something special to those people.

    - Work/life balance is great. People generally work 9 to 5 with after-hours work very rarely for special projects. Vacation and sick time are about average.

    Cons

    A lot of the previous negative reviews are true, but there should be some context. We just went through a round of layoffs (which is extremely unfortunate) but not something out of the ordinary for a media company. Grist is in a time of great transition, a new vision and mission, a new CEO, and a large fundraising push. While I agree with a lot of the critiques by employees whom were let go, I'm confident that we are headed in the right direction.

    To the diversity/equity problem at Grist, it's something a group of employees are very passionate about. Our new CEO is also passionate about this, so I'm hopeful we will see more action behind this.

    Advice to Management

    - Don't try to do everything at once! Our staff is too small at the moment to stretch us so thin.

    - Focus on what Grist is known for — journalism. These side projects are a distraction.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Disastrous Editing Process"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Grist full-time

    Pros

    They are frequently hiring, though increasingly only for contract positions.

    Cons

    The executive editor insists on line-editing feature articles after they have already gone through the edit process, and will heavy-handedly rewrite perfectly good, magazine-style articles so that they read like the product of a regional daily newspaper. Grist has many talented editors and writers who were often hired precisely because of the distinctive verve and style of their writing, and for them, this process of seeing their work extensively rewritten at the very end of the edit process by someone who refuses to take feedback and who has no real checks to their editorial power is profoundly demoralizing.

    To make this worse, the executive editor refuses to allow staff writers to freelance for or even be interviewed by other publications without his approval (which he frequently won't give, or will delay making a decision on until the window of opportunity has passed).

    Previously, Grist was known as a place for young writers and editors to experiment and make a name for themselves. This is not the case anymore, and it won't be until the executive editor does his actual job, and leaves lower-level employees to do what they were hired for. If the executive editor had been asked to take an edit test as part of the hiring process, he would have failed. If he had announced his intent to edit instead of doing the job he was tired to do (impress rich people, raise money) he would not have been hired for this position.

    Furthermore, the executive editor commutes to the Seattle offices to New Jersey several times a month by airplane, which is a strange and expensive choice for a climate-focused nonprofit to make.

    Advice to Management

    Someone like Dave Roberts could only have come out of a place with the editorial freedom that Grist had. Unless you give that freedom back, your writing -- and reputation -- will suffer.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Tremendous Intentions, The Best Intentions"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Grist full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    For the right person, Grist is a fun place to work. The work/life balance is great, and employees are generally friendly, committed, and good for a laugh. The magazine occupies an interesting space in journalism - sort of like the communications arm of a non-profit. It offers an outlet for mission-centric work.

    Cons

    Grist is kinda the Rachel Dolezal of environmentalism. It aspires to center environmental justice and organizational equity, but these things just aren't in its DNA. I think the toxicity comments in other reviews here are broadly true. During my time at Grist, I watched a lot of strong writers lose confidence in their own writing because of conflicting/shifting editorial standards and warped incentive structures. The organization's mission/vision was reworked so many times it failed to mean anything. Senior management is masterful and generous with the non-apologetic 'we think that's important and it's something we're working on'.

    When I think about Grist, I feel tired. It was unclear whose words and ideas mattered.

    Advice to Management

    - Invest in your HR department
    - Accept your role in perpetuating structural racism and prioritize a transparent, concrete response
    - Don't instrumentalize your values


  4. "Bad organization run by bad people"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Below the top layer the employees are nice, funny, smart people. Work-life balance is good for online journalism. Progressive mission and no pressure to meet traffic targets or anything like that.

    Cons

    This place is mismanaged even by the low standards of non-profit journalism. In 3 years it has had 4 different executive editors. It hired a CEO and then lost him within months. It takes months or even years to fill crucial vacancies. Editing staff is constantly over-stretched and editors frequently leave without even having another job lined up because they are so unhappy. There are constant wild vacillations in editorial strategy, accompanied by long boring discussions about mission and approach that yield no result. Your job responsibilities can be downgraded from what you were hired to do. The founder meddles in coverage in a manner that is unhelpful, time-wasting, and disrespectful to the people who actually produce daily journalism. There is no job security, even if you work hard, perform well, and get overwhelmingly positive feedback from supervisors. Severance agreements are tiny and require you to sign away a bunch of rights or get nothing at all. Funders dictate what subjects are covered.

    Advice to Management

    Send some big checks to the former employees you exploited and screwed over


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Well-meaning but deeply flawed organization"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Grist full-time

    Pros

    There's great flexibility in terms of hours and working remotely as needed, which helps with work-life balance. Many of the staffers are talented and genuinely nice people.

    Cons

    The leadership is full of white men and they talk about diversity and equality but don't walk the walk. Women are not treated or paid equally with men. People of color often don't feel supported and the few that are hired don't tend to stick around long. The leadership flails about constantly, having endless meetings and discussions about mission and vision, and the game plan shifts dramatically every year or even every few months. The leadership tends to micromanage. Pay is great for the people at the very top (and for outside consultants) and poor for everyone else. The founder makes snap judgments about employees and if he doesn't like them he tries to make them unhappy enough that they'll quit or he outright fires them or lays them off. That's just one of many factors leading to tons of turnover.

    Advice to Management

    Get serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pay the men at the top much less and pay the hard-working people in the rest of the organization much more. Figure out what the organization is doing and stick to the game plan instead of constantly reinventing the wheel. And appreciate the staff in ways that really matter instead of just giving lip service and having pizza days.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Nope. Nope. Nope."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Grist full-time

    Pros

    They allow employees to work remotely and there are good benefits, including a matching 401K.

    Cons

    As previous reviewers have noted, Grist has a toxic culture. Upper management is overpaid while junior staffers make poverty wages. There is a constantly changing "vision" that no one can seem to agree on, and despite a whole lot of talk about equity and diversity, they continue to hire mediocre white men to run the place. The lack of transparency is criminal, and while Grist loves to pat itself on the back for all the good that they do, I'm hard-pressed to think of ANYTHING the organization has accomplished. Turnover is insanely high for a reason. Don't work here and really don't give them your money.

    Advice to Management

    Sacrfice yourselves for the greater good.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Work somewhere else."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Grist full-time

    Pros

    Some people who work at Grist are kind, supportive, and genuinely care about sustainability.

    Cons

    This place is toxic. Constant "vision" meetings and editorial bureaucracy mean actual work is rarely done. Senior management often bulldozes over the ideas of editorial staff. There is also deep hypocrisy in the difference between Grist's public commitment to justice and actual workplace and editorial practices (lots of casual racism & glaring holes in news coverage.) Despite year-long talks about prioritizing diversity, Grist hired no full-time employees of color but did lay one off. It seems like an exhausting place to work as someone who is not white—they never last long.

    Advice to Management

    Hire people of color. Invest in and support your writers. Don't monetize being progressive if you're not.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "A bad experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Grist full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    There are some amazing people that work at Grist – not just in editorial, but also across several departments.

    Cons

    During my time there, Grist made eight additional hires. Despite a lot of buzzwords like diversity, equity, and justice, all eight hires were white people. Some of the staffers made my time there intolerable as a person of color. For example, an editor casually said the n-word (the whole actual word) to me during a conversation. Another time, an editor posted a racist gif that was later taken down without explanation or apology to the staff or to the readers. On a different occasion, I had an editor explain to me that they "felt like a person of color at heart," in response to my describing the lack of diversity at the organization as a unique challenge for me. Meanwhile, my ability to communicate in the English language was called into question on several occasions by at least two different editors. I also found out that there was no use in me complaining. After the executive editor attempted to explain to me why it was sometimes acceptable to call indigenous peoples "savages," I complained to the president. I was laid off two months later.

    Advice to Management

    Read Ursula K. Le Guin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."


  9. "Grist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    The people are the best part about working at Grist. Sadly in the time I have been there, many people have left.

    Cons

    The turnover rate is extremely high. The management and the overall running of the company is unorganized. The "vision" is constantly being discussed and updated much to the chagrin of the non-managerial staff. There is also a massive gap in pay and treatment of managers vs non-managers, including but not limited to Grist paying for transportation and furnished apartments in the most expensive neighborhood in Seattle for management staff who only live there a few days out of the week. Grist is very negligent about hiring people of color and the staff is 99% white, despite a lot of talk about being diverse and inclusive.

    Advice to Management

    Hire people of color. Don't waste money on apartments for the managers. Distribute the salaries more evenly.


  10. "Founder's Syndrome and Out of Touch Management for an Incredibly Small Organization"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    The staff is great and is generally only one of the things keeping people there. It's a small organization and has been able to be scrappy to the best of its abilities.

    Cons

    There is 100% turnover every few years, and it has everything to do with leadership. Staff salaries are low, especially when comparing to senior management, whose perks include fully-furnished Seattle apartments if they are remote. They claim to be a diversity-friendly organization, but this means hiring non-white people as freelancers with no benefits, while hiring almost entirely white people for all (editorial and non-editorial) staff positions. The Board is well-meaning but disconnected because they are based around the country and communications are primarily funneled through the CEO and President. HR is technically assigned by someone with no HR background and no interest in helping employees with HR issues. The Founder/CEO would not be able to be hired at any other organization due to his lack of professionalism, so Grist suffers from Founder's Syndrome.

    Advice to Management

    Oust the CEO. Don't hire senior management just to fill a position. Listen to staff concerns. Hire an outside HR consultant if the in-house staff doesn't have the skill set to do HR.


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