Category: Journalism

Inside Story: Rural reporter turns routine permit into award-winning investigation

Read the full story from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Angus Thuermer Jr. is no stranger to the pages of Inside Story, having appeared in mid-2020 to discuss his outstanding small market beat reporting for coverage of water law, gas wells, unlined pits and chronic wasting disease for WyoFile.com. This time around, Thuermer discusses coverage that challenged assumptions about oil field pollutants, winning him a second-place prize for outstanding investigative reporting (small newsroom or circulation) at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 2020 Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment.

SEJ’s judges lauded Thuermer, who they said “dug deeply into what might have been a routine state permit for dumping oil field waste into protected waters [and] tracked how regulators’ jargon hid acceptance of flawed industry assurances and the likelihood of degraded water quality.” The stories stirred public opposition, and ultimately EPA criticism forced the state to withdraw the permit. SEJournal Online followed up with him for a new conversation about his award-winning work.

City claims Google’s water use is a trade secret and exempt from Oregon’s public records laws

Read the full story at Crowell Trade Secret Trends.

In a case pitting Wasco County, Oregon residents and a newspaper against the City of Dalles, Oregon, a court will decide whether a public interest exception in a state law will mandate the disclosure of potential trade secrets. After a reporter from The Oregonian inquired into Google’s water use, the City of Dalles (“Dalles”) filed a Complaint against both the reporter and the newspaper (the “Defendants”) seeking declaratory relief, requesting that the court declare Google’s water use a trade secret under Oregon’s Public Records Law, ORS 192.311 et seq, and the Oregon Uniform Trade Secrets Act, ORS 646.461 et seq. As described below, the issue is whether Google’s water use is a trade secret, and if so, if the public interest exception, which may permit public disclosure of trade secrets, applies.

On Twitter, fossil fuel companies’ climate misinformation is subtle

Read the full story from NiemanLab.

This subtle form of misinformation, which scholars have called “fossil fuel solutionism,” involves cherry-picking data and talking points.

WatchDog Opinion: Science integrity is about more than getting EPA interviews

Read the full story from the SEJ WatchDog.

SEJ and other groups have been complaining for years that journalists should be allowed to interview government scientists without interference and censorship by agency press offices. It’s an old story, and it has been chronicled in the WatchDog for many years.

The problem today is different: an assault on, corruption of, and betrayal of the science itself. We are seeing more clearly how government science is co-opted by self-interested industry lobbying. How some politicians and agency officials encourage and enable this corruption. And how some news media (and a wider mediasphere) actually play a major role in corrupting and distorting the science. There is today an “anti-science” movement, and it is getting stronger even as media puzzle over it.

Report for America

Report for America places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Report for America Corps Member Journalists are part of a movement to strengthen communities, and our democracy, through local journalism that is truthful, fair, fearless and smart. Report for America helps local newsrooms report on under-covered issues and communities by helping them find great emerging or experienced journalists and paying half their salary. Corps members are talented, service-oriented journalists who provide residents with the information they need to improve their communities and hold powerful institutions accountable.

Applications are open Dec. 8-Jan. 30.

Informational webinar

The Society of Environmental Journalists is hosting an informational webinar on Dec 8 at noon CST. Attend this webinar to learn more about Report for America and how to apply for more than 100 full-time journalism positions, including many environmental positions, 10 of which will be offered through a partnership with the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Society of Environmental Journalists. These 10 positions are part of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a new collaborative network meant to boost coverage of environmental and agricultural issues throughout the river basin.

Webinar: How Journalists Can Report on Toxic Hot Spots

Nov 22, 2021, 2 pm CST
Register here.

Join ProPublica reporters for an in-depth tutorial on how to investigate toxic air pollution in your community by using ProPublica’s first-of-its-kind air toxics map and data.

Environmental Justice Video Challenge for Students

Phase one deadline: Apr 1, 2022 by 11:59 PM EST
Informational webinar: Dec 6, 2021, noon ESTRegister here
For more information

Background

Many communities face greater environmental exposures and public health risks due to a history of inequitable environmental policies and access to the decision-making process. Environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 

EPA and partners have launched the Environmental Justice (EJ) Video Challenge for Students to enhance communities’ capacity to address environmental and public health inequities. The goals of the challenge are to: 

  1. Inspire students at accredited colleges and universities in the United States and its territories to work directly with communities in the identification and characterization of EJ challenges using data and publicly available tools, and
  2. Help communities (including residents and other stakeholders) address EJ challenges and/or vulnerabilities to environmental and public health hazards using data and publicly available tools. 

Eligibility

  • Open to undergraduate and graduate students (18 years and older as well as international students under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 102(2)(F)) enrolled in accredited institutions of higher education (including community colleges) across the United States and its territories.
  • At least one (1) faculty advisor is required to serve as a mentor to teams participating in the Challenge.
  • Only teams who submitted videos in Phase 1 are eligible to participate in Phase 2 of the Challenge.
  • There must be at least one (1) team member from Phase 1 who participates as a team member in Phase 2 of the Challenge. This is to help with continuity in cases where students graduate prior to Phase 2 completion.

The Challenge

This EJ Video Challenge for Students is structured in two separate phases, each with their own timelines.

Phase 1

The goal of Phase 1 is for students to create a video to demonstrate innovative approaches to identify and characterize an EJ issue(s) in a select community using data and publicly available tools. Students will submit a video that meets requirements outlined in the Video Submission Requirements – Phase 1 section below.

Students are strongly encouraged to work in teams and identify and collaborate with community organizations that may bring important understanding and perspective to the EJ challenge(s) the community is facing.

Check out EJ Video Challenge: Tools and Data Resources for ideas to get started. Students are welcome to use other data and publicly available tools that are not already listed.

Phase 2

In Phase 2, students will develop a video to display how they used data and publicly available tools to identify strategies and opportunities to address an identified EJ issue(s) and worked with a community-based organization(s) to inform strategies for intervention and/or facilitated effective community engagement and advocacy on the EJ issues. Details on the specific requirements and prizes for Phase 2 will be shared at a later date.

Mongabay internships now open for Spring 2022

Mongabay.org is once again offering its internship program, which primarily involves writing environmental news stories for their affiliated news site – Mongabay.com.

What you will do

Interns will have the opportunity to develop their writing skills and have their news stories be published on their renowned website which boasts over two million global readers every month. This internship will run from Jan 1 – June 30, 2022 with a six-month commitment.

To allow a more diverse pool of candidates that get accepted into our internship program, we plan to select at least a candidate from the Global South and another from the Global North region. We encourage applicants who identify as being from or part of these regions to apply.

How to apply

For more information on how to apply, click here.

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards

The global news media consortium Covering Climate Now has announced the winners of the first annual Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards. The 12 winners, including print reporters and photojournalists, digital, television and radio journalists, as well as podcasters and commentators, were selected from nearly 600 entries submitted from 38 countries.

This exemplary work, along with interviews with the winners, the judges, and leaders in climate change is featured in a fast-paced and compelling video special that provides a snapshot of the global climate emergency. The streaming program, which can be watched here anytime, is hosted by NBC News’ Al Roker and Savannah Sellers.

Covering Climate Now, whose hundreds of partner outlets reach a combined audience of 2 billion people, launched these awards in collaboration with Columbia Journalism Review. The awards celebrate work that sets a standard of excellence for journalists everywhere to emulate as newsrooms increase their coverage of the climate story. Winners were chosen by a jury of distinguished judges including leading journalists from newsrooms around the world.

Mark Hertsgaard, the executive director of Covering Climate Now and environment correspondent for The Nation, said, “Powerful storytelling, science-based reporting, and cultural sensitivity are at the heart of this collection of extraordinary journalism. Entries were submitted from every continent except Antarctica, demonstrating that the media’s climate silence has unmistakably ended as journalists rise to the challenge of telling the defining story of our time.”

Kyle Pope, the editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review, said, “Our goal in starting Covering Climate Now was to cultivate more and better journalism on climate change. These winners are leading the way, showing us all how to cover a story that is increasingly shaping the future.”

These inaugural Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards also honor Rahma Diaa, a freelance reporter based in Egypt, with the Emerging Journalist award, established to recognize the path-breaking contributions that young journalists are making to climate coverage. Ms. Diaa has reported on a wide range of intersectional climate stories that affect her community, such as the health impacts of increased use of coal in Egypt, water scarcity in Iraq, and women working on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

The streaming special is co-hosted by Al Roker, NBC News TODAY show weather and feature anchor and co-host of the 3rd Hour of TODAY, and Savannah Sellers, correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, co-anchor of NBC News NOW and co-host of NBC News’ Stay Tuned program. It premiered on NBC News NOW on Friday, October 8 at 11 PM ET. The program is also streaming on the websites of Covering Climate Now,  Columbia Journalism ReviewThe NationThe Guardian, and Now This.

Organized by journalists, for journalists, Covering Climate Now is a non-profit, non-partisan consortium of more than 400 news outlets working to improve coverage of the climate story. Its partner outlets represent 57 countries and include some of the biggest names in news — The Guardian, NBC News, CBS News, Bloomberg, Agence-France Presse, Reuters, Nature, Scientific American, Al Jazeera, VICE World News, NowThis, The Times of India, and El Pais — as well as local and independent news organizations from around the world.

The Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Michaux Family Foundation, Wayne Crookes, Bob and Sandra Taylor, and a founding grant from the Schumann Media Center.

COVERING CLIMATE NOW JOURNALISM AWARD WINNERS

Audio/Radio

Alaska Natives on the Front Line — Coffee & Quaq
By Alice Qannik Glenn and Jenna Kunze

This podcast provided a rare, insider’s look at the impact of climate change on the Indigenous community of Utqiagvik, Alaska. Through intimate conversations with residents, the journalists drew listeners into a culture unfamiliar to many, revealing the precariousness of tundra existence as the planet warms and the resilience and resourcefulness needed to adapt and survive.

Drilled Season 3: The Mad Men — Critical Frequency
By Amy Westervelt

This series dug into the deep historical roots of the fossil fuel industry’s long record of using disinformation to deny climate change. With excellent use of audio clips, this revealing series investigates how Big Oil’s public relations machine—which dates back more than a century to John D. Rockefeller—provided a road map that oil corporations, as well as the tobacco industry, followed to mislead the public for decades.


Video/TV

The Road to Change: America’s Climate Crisis — CNN
By Bill Weir, Jim Murphy, Jessica Small, Julian QuinonesEvelio Contreras, and Davide Cannaviccio 

This program took viewers on an epic road trip across America, introducing people whose lives have been dramatically and often irrevocably transformed by the climate crisis. From wealthy homeowners in Miami spending fortunes to future-proof their homes against rising sea levels, to Iowa’s beleaguered farmers battling unpredictable weather, Weir treated all the people he met, whatever their views, with respect and compassion while dispelling myths and avoiding cliches about the impacts of climate change.


Special Coverage, Series, or Issue

The Great Climate Migration: A Warming Planet and a Shifting Population — ProPublica
By Abrahm LustgartenAl ShawMeridith KohutLucas Waldron, and Sergey Ponomarev 

Breathtaking in its ambition and scope, this series pulled together familiar threads about the impact of climate change on migration with a renewed sense of urgency, on a truly global canvas. Painstaking data journalism combined with absorbing storytelling explained what we are seeing today, and what the world might look like tomorrow, with visuals that were impossible to ignore.


Photography

Bangladesh’s Hidden Climate Costs — The New Humanitarian
By Zakir Hossain Chowdhury 

This series of photographs combined stunning portraits of people confronting rising sea levels with photographs capturing desperate efforts to hold back water, and aerial images that powerfully documented a community’s climate vulnerability. It provided a compelling visual narrative of the Sisyphean task people faced in the aftermath of a cyclone that washed out protective embankments and triggered recurring high tides.

Heart of Fire — AFP
By Josh Edelson 

Edelson’s photo series documented many angles of a devastating story in northern California. From the start of a raging fire, when orange skies blanketed San Francisco, to the moments when fire was actively overtaking homes and livelihoods, to the human toll of complete destruction—striking images captured the overwhelming size of the inferno and its emotional impact on both firefighters and the displaced.


Commentary

The Media Isn’t Ready to Cover Climate Apartheid — The Nation
By Michelle Garcia 

Observing the media’s tendency in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on the experiences of mostly white and relatively affluent communities while ignoring the inequalities faced by poorer groups and communities of colors, Garcia questioned the media’s preparedness to use a more inclusive lens as it covers the climate crisis.  This commentary was seen as a needed corrective and a call to action for journalists to do better.


Multimedia

The Sound of Icebergs Melting: My Journey into the Antarctic — The Guardian
By Jonathan Watts 

Using evocative multimedia elements to transport readers to the Antarctic, this piece took readers on a sensory journey to the frontline of the climate emergency.  Watt’s storytelling reveals both ominous evidence of glacial melt as well as hopeful signs that concerted action can make a difference.


Breaking News

Jake Spring’s Breaking News Coverage on Brazil’s Environment — Reuters
By Jake Spring 

This package of stories about deforestation in Brazil revealed how the government of President Jair Bolsonaro used the pretext of COVID-19 safety measures to undermine inspection policies intended to protect the rainforest.  Spring’s tenacious coverage is evidence of a reporter who deeply understands his beat, and stays on its cutting edge.


Investigative Journalism

Who Killed the Supergrid? Trump Appointees Short-Circuited Grid Modernization to Help the Coal Industry — InvestigateWest and The Atlantic
By Peter Fairley 

This meticulous story revealed the Trump administration’s deliberate effort to bury a federally funded study that provided evidence that a connected super grid would accelerate the growth of wind and solar energy. The story made the abstraction of the nation’s  power grid interesting, and Fairley’s explosive disclosures also led to regulatory change.


Feature

How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era — Rolling Stone
By Jeff Goodell 

This story cleverly used pandemic diseases as a strong hook for a fascinating, detailed story that explained how climate change is driving habitat destruction and species migration, leading to a new wave of pandemics. Goodell employed cinematic techniques, zooming in close for a visceral description of a mosquito bite, before pulling back for interviews with key scientists and then wider still for an historical overview of diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus.


Emerging Journalist

Rahma Diaa — Work published in: One World, ARIJ, Climate Tracker, Aleyada, Scientific American Arabic

Diaa has produced a body of fine journalism in a region where climate reporting is especially challenging, particularly for women. Diaa has reported a wide range of intersectional climate change stories that impact her community, such as the health impacts of the increased use of coal in Egypt, water scarcity in Iraq, and women at work on the front lines of climate change.

Using satellite data for journalism — what I learned from the experts

Read the full story at Satellite Journalism.com.

For reporters, satellite data offers unique opportunities for original investigations and visual storytelling. But how do you get started? And what should you be looking out for?

I spoke to four journalists who regularly work with satellite data about how to start, best practices and — most importantly — mistakes to avoid. Here’s what I learned:

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