The Editors' Post: 20 years of impact journalism

Founding editor Tim West reflects on accepting a prestigious prize among the spires of Cambridge – recognition of Pioneers Post's more than 20 years covering the pioneers in social innovation.

It’s been a surreal but uplifting week. 

I spent Wednesday amidst the stunning courts and spires of Cambridge University, at an awards event at Trinity Hall college. Just down the road from our 673-year-old venue, a bunch of people dressed like the cast of Harry Potter were performing the installation ceremony of Cambridge University’s 347th vice-chancellor.

Such a place, you might think, is as remote from social innovation as anywhere. 

But eccentric traditions aside, Cambridge is of course also a seriously – and socially – innovative place, with 121 Nobel prizes to its name and an overall mission “to contribute to society… at the highest levels of excellence”. 

So it was a real honour to be invited there as one of five recipients of the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize. After 20 years covering the pioneers in social innovation, it feels very special that our work – and the value of good quality, independent journalism – has been recognised in this way.  

Our role as an independent journalism platform is partly about sharing stories and solutions that we can all learn from and be inspired by. Like the beautiful feature produced by our journalist Laura Joffre and designer Fanny Blanquier, profiling a charity helping poor farmers make a living while battling the deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon. 

We’re also dedicated to telling stories of great human endeavour – such as Anna Patton’s uplifting interview with the remarkable Suzanne Biegel.

Importantly, we also have a remit to challenge and scrutinise. Take Mitra Ardron’s powerful piece – borne out of frustration about what he claims is the almost complete absence of innovation-friendly impact investing for early-stage enterprises.

Or Laura Joffre’s fascinating analysis of “slave-free” chocolate company Tony’s Chocolonely, whose catchily named “Tony’s Mission Lock” claims to be “a future-proof legal structure for impact companies”. In a plot worthy of the Marvel universe, three “mission guardians” will protect the company from evil but, asks Laura, just how will it work and will it prove strong enough when new investment opportunities come knocking?

As a social enterprise ourselves, we’re committed to building on our 20 years of impact journalism.

Next week we’ll be back in awards-giving mode as we celebrate the best of UK social enterprise in our NatWest SE100 Awards. 

Right now I want to say thank you to our small but brilliant team – and to our community for your impact and your stories.

Have a lovely weekend!


This week’s top stories:

Golden share but no veto rights: how Tony’s Chocolonely hopes to future-proof its mission 

Seeds of hope: the charity helping to replant Peru's rainforest

Should we admit that impact investment can't do innovation?


Photo credit: King's College Cambridge, by okmarian on Pixabay

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