Four years covering urban innovation: A message to Citiscope readers

The Citiscope team at Habitat III. From left to right: Christopher Swope, Curtis Johnson, Patralekha Chatterjee, Carey L. Biron, Anna Valmero, Brendon Bosworth, Gregory Scruggs, Farley Peters and Neal Peirce.

Citiscope was born in 2013 to fill a vacuum: A lack of media stories telling not just the problems and challenges of cities, but how inventive local leaders and citizens are working to solve them.

It was clear to us that the world has entered an Age of the City, with urbanization spreading at a speed, scale and intensity unprecedented in human history. But we perceived a central question: How can this massive transformation benefit the most people? What solutions to cities’ immense challenges are being invented? Citiscope scoured the globe to discover urban innovations happening from the micro scale of city neighborhoods to the macro scale of the planet’s increasingly huge metropolitan regions. Then we tapped local writers to describe the breakthroughs, new experiences and lessons learned that could be applied in cities elsewhere. Our readers included curious mayors, urban activists and planners, and city scholars across the globe.

We also spotted the work of innovative thinkers preparing a New Urban Agenda for the world’s cities. Citiscope produced the world’s fullest coverage of the document’s development, culminating at the U. N.’s Habitat III summit on cities where nearly 170 countries ratified it. Our news coverage and commentaries from urban experts broadened and deepened the debate about the role of cities on the global stage. And it sparked important conversations about how the New Urban Agenda and other agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris climate accord will be implemented in cities.

But moving forward, we have faced two challenges common to niche nonprofit news organizations. One is fiscal: We are grateful to have received support from the Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur and Kresge foundations, as well as Mistra Urban Futures, but sustaining long-term support for our editorial operations has been difficult.

Equally important is scale. While our readership has grown substantially and Citiscope has become a well-known brand in global urban circles, stirring global action in cities requires the resources and reach of a larger media enterprise.

So we are pleased to report that Citiscope’s ongoing operations are being absorbed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a highly respected news organization that shares our mission of telling under-reported stories from around the world. With a global editorial team of 46 journalists and 150 freelancers, the foundation’s stories reach a potential audience of 1 billion people a day through the Reuters newswires.

Citiscope is now part of place, the foundation’s portal for news and analysis about land and property rights. Two of our talented journalists, Carey L. Biron and Gregory Scruggs, will bolster place’s coverage of cities, and contribute to Thomson Reuters Foundation coverage on the urban dimensions of other global issues such as climate change. We don’t believe a better fit could be found for Citiscope’s mission and expertise.

We invite Citiscope readers to stay with the story of the future of cities at place. If you are currently signed up for Citiscope’s email newsletter, you’ll continue to receive regular updates from place. You can also follow place on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. All of the valuable stories we’ve produced from 2013 to 2017 — features on urban innovations, commentaries from urban experts, explainers on topical issues and coverage of Habitat III, will continue to be available at citiscope.org.

I offer deep thanks to the other people who shaped Citiscope’s planning and execution: Christopher Swope (our managing editor), Curtis Johnson (publisher), Donald Borut (board chair), Nicholas You (board member and early co-conspirator), and Farley Peters (my ally in co-founding Citiscope). All of us hope readers will stay engaged in the global debate on how cities can grow and adapt to the massive challenges — and opportunities — of this century. That’s been Citiscope’s mission; we invite you to make it yours.

Neal Peirce, Editor-in-chief

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Neal Peirce is the founder and editor-in-chief of Citiscope. Full bio

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