REI Co-op Provides Editorial Transparency, Publishes Guiding Principles

This month, we are excited to debut the first issue of Uncommon Path, a new magazine chronicling the experiences, events and ideas that shape the relationship between people and life outside. The magazine is available at all REI stores and select newsstands and bookstores nationwide. We will distribute 700,000 copies of the first and subsequent issues.

I am thankful to the teams for their sense of purpose and responsibility in the effort to carry forward the REI storytelling tradition.

The co-op holds itself to a high standard of integrity in the editorial content we provide. That’s why today we published our editorial guiding principles. These principles will drive our editorial practices and help curious audiences understand how our editorial agenda is aligned with the co-op’s belief: A life outdoors is a life well lived, for all.

In 1972, nearly 50 years ago and two years after the establishment of Earth Day, the co-op mailed the first issue of a member newsletter called “View Point.” Leaders at that time developed the newsletter to increase communications with members about the actions taken to “keep the co-op healthy and successful.” We are inspired by that generation of co-op leaders who asked for member engagement by offering transparency and communicated an urgent concern about the environment: “REI feels it must speak to you, pointing out the ways in which you can help save the land…”

We carry forward concerns—more urgent now—about environmental stewardship, protection of public lands and the challenge of our generation: human impact on climate change. We are committed to developing articles, videos and audio to help our members and broad audiences better understand and act upon these issues—with factual information. We can do a lot, but no single organization can cover every important story, so we’ve developed a partnership with Newsmatch to help local, independent, nonprofit newsrooms expand their environmental reporting in communities around the country.

Access to trustworthy information is foundational to constructive public discourse and a healthy democracy. Misinformation is a looming threat. On average, 65 percent of Americans say the news they see on social media is misinformation, according to a 2018 Knight Foundation survey. We believe the 18 million REI members and broader outdoor audiences we serve are subject to these effects, justifiably skeptical of algorithmically based news cycles. As the co-op becomes more of an editorial resource through articles, videos and podcasts appearing in news feeds alongside both trusted and unfamiliar news outlets, we want to be up-front about our practices and intents.

We prioritize accuracy in our stories and avoid false equivalency. Because the outdoors is for all, we do not give voice to sources of racism, sexism or homophobia. We will focus our biggest efforts on climate change, the impact of the outdoors on public health, and diversity, equity and inclusion. We also are committed to continuing to publish editorial content that tells people about amazing places to explore, innovative gear and outdoor knowledge. We have serious issues to tackle but keep the reasons why we spend time outside front of mind: connection, meaning, health and just plain fun.

We keep these reasons front of mind as we expand editorial publishing at the co-op and explore the ideas, issues and events at the center of outdoor life and culture. Whether you’re a casual reader passing by or a lifetime REI member, we hope to serve you with stories that awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors.

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