Media appearances

Appearance on the Nature Solutionaries pocast

Veronika Perková recently interviewed me for her Nature Solutionaries pocast.

Here is the YouTube version of the podcast:

Some of the ground we covered in the podcast:

Early Days of Mongabay:
🌳 My decision to start the website was carefully planned rather than a risky leap, beginning as a side gig to a job with a paying salary. I recommend exploring passion projects while maintaining one’s current job to better ensure financial security.
🌳 I talk about the importance of careful financial planning and savings from a young age, recounting my experience managing a pet store in my teens.

Balancing Passion and Practicality:
🌳 Transitioning to a non-profit model required me to give up most reporting and take on roles I wasn’t initially skilled at, like management and fundraising.
🌳 It’s important to have a broad, long-term vision and align with audiences interested in making an impact through donations.

Support and Recognition:
🌳 My grandmother was my biggest supporter, emotionally and practically. It took my parents several years to accept my career choice after seeing external recognition and success.
🌳 External accolades played a crucial role in validating my career path to family and peers.

Conservation Journalism Challenges:
🌳 It can be difficult to pitch conservation stories to mainstream newsrooms, which often prioritize climate change, disasters, and energy topics.
🌳 Environmental degradation is broadening the audience for conservation news.

Impact of Environmental Degradation:
🌳 I talk about revisiting places from my childhood; both the devastation and resilience of certain ecosystems.
🌳 I’ve seen significant changes, like the disappearance of insects and quieter forests.

Future Outlook for Journalism:
🌳 I believe original journalism will become even more critical as the world becomes inundated with AI-generated content.
🌳 But I am concerned about the public’s ability to discern real from fake news and whether people will continue to care about facts over what conforms to their worldview.

Advice for Aspiring Conservationists:
🌳 It’s important to understand your strengths, the landscape of opportunities, and being realistic about the effort required to succeed.

By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.