By David Poulson
It’s almost a cliche that while covering a local election someone in the newsroom yells out, “How do you figure millages?”
Inevitably they are answered with a chorus of “I don’t know. That’s why I chose journalism. I hate math.”
Well…that’s just poor journalism. And contrary to the best interests of your career. And easily fixed.
So fix it now and make yourself a much more powerful journalist. And employable.
By David Poulson
I sometimes get emails from people I don’t know who offer to contribute free content to Great Lakes Echo, the Knight Center’s environmental news service.
I usually ignore them. But something prompted me to respond recently, setting off an exchange that left me wondering at the value people place on writing. Here is how it began:
B Eric Freedman after an interview by the independent news website 74.RU in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
By Eric Freedman
I recently spent a week in Russia, lecturing at three universities about environmental journalism. The students in Saint Petersburg and Chelyabinsk sounded enthusiastic about journalism as a profession, and covering environmental issues.
The U.S. State Department sponsored my lectures and gave me a chance to speak with some of Russia’s brightest future journalists on these themes:
- Environmental Journalism: The Challenges Ahead
Вызовы экологи ческой журналистки
- “Real People” Make Environmental Stories Real
«Реальные люди» – делаем «экологические» истории настоящими
- Finding the Environmental Stories Nobody Else Covers
Поиск «экологичного» – эксклюзивные истории
However, it’s a tough time in both spheres in Russia: Environmentalism and journalism.
Knight Center graduate Jessica A. Knoblauch (MA ’08) was recently promoted to Managing Editor/Senior Content Producer at Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit organization that uses the law to protect people’s health and the environment.
Based in San Francisco, with offices around the country, Jessica manages and writes for the Earthjustice’s blog, monthly newsletter and quarterly magazine.
In her new role, Jessica will direct an expanding editorial team in creating engaging stories about Earthjustice’s work. During her five-year tenure there, Jessica has covered a range of environmental issues, from fracking concerns in Cooperstown, New York (home of the baseball hall of fame), to pesticide issues created by the unfettered use of genetically engineered crops in Hawaii.
Jessica credits her time at the Knight Center, specifically managing and writing for EJ Magazine, as a major factor in influencing her career trajectory. The ability to tell great stories and explain complex environmental issues, just two skills she picked up at the Knight Center, are critical for any communications job, she said.
Prior to Earthjustice, Jessica wrote for a number of online and print publications, including Plenty, Grist, Audubon, Environmental Health News and Earth Island Journal. She moved from New York to the Bay Area in 2009 and now lives in Berkeley with her husband, MSU journalism alum Wes Holing (MA ’08), and two dogs. She enjoys cycling the area’s many scenic bike routes.
Eric Freedman at St. Petersburg University.
Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently spent a week giving guest lectures in two Russian cities about environmental journalism.
He spoke at the University of Television and Cinema and at Saint Petersburg State University in Saint Petersburg, the former Russian capital under the czars, and at Chelyabinsk State University in Chelyabinsk in the South Urals.
Both host cities face severe environmental challenges. In Saint Petersburg, the Neva River running through the heart of the city has been heavily polluted, primarily by industrial wastes, and it’s ranked the country’s third-most polluted city. Chelyabinsk and its environs have been described as among the world’s most contaminated places, due in large part to radioactive contaminants from a now-closed nuclear material processing facility, but also due to discharges from industrial plants.
Traditionally, journalism students gain professional experience before graduation through internships, part-time or summer jobs, and campus media.
Those avenues are often insufficient to adequately prepare them for professional workplaces and standards.
In a recently published study, Knight Center director Eric Freedman and senior associate director Dave Poulson examine two practice-based programs at the Michigan State University School of Journalism that provide that essential preparation: Great Lakes Echo, covering environmental news in eight states and two Canadian provinces, and Capital News Service covering government, politics and public policy in Michigan.
Undergrad and master’s students staff both news services. Their published and posted articles and visuals are valuable additions to their portfolios and resumes.
The study observes, “The much-bewailed downturn in the economic fate of traditional news organizations benefits these types of practice-driven, production-focused programs at journalism schools.”
Steven Benson. Image: Jordan Jennings.
By DANIELLE WOODWARD
Steven Benson’s expedition to photograph China’s Three Gorges Dam did not start with a warm welcome. But initial hostility turned into a dinner invitation and later a family photo that is now among the images of China exhibited at Michigan State University.
Benson, a contemporary American photographer, recently visited the university’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism to talk about this exhibit, “The Cost of Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam and the Yangtze River.”
Environmental journalism students Kevin Duffy, Jenna Chapman, Amanda Proscia and Danielle Woodward are among those recently recognized by Michigan State University’s School of Journalism for outstanding accomplishments. Image: Barb Miller
Eleven students affiliated with the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism are among the award winners recognized recently by Michigan State University’s School of Journalism.
- Chelsea Mongeau, Edward J. Meeman award for outstanding undergraduate student in environmental journalism
- Perry Parks, Rachel Carson award for outstanding graduate student in environmental journalism and also recognized as outstanding doctoral student
- Danielle Woodward, Knight Center Service Award and also a National Pulliam Journalism Fellowship
- Amelia Havanec, co-winner of the Len Barnes Scholarship and a Mary Adelaide Gardner Scholarship
- Colleen Otte, co-winner of the Len Barnes Scholarship and a Mary Adelaide Gardner Scholarship
- Kevin Duffy, co-winner of the Don Caldwell Memorial Scholarship
- Amanda Proscia, co-winner of the Outstanding Masters Student award and co-winner of the Don Caldwell Memorial Scholarship
- Jenna Chapman, winner of the Larry Lee Overseas Study Scholarship
- Nyla Hughes, winner of the Michael A. and Sandra S. Clark Scholarship
- Collin Krizmanich, winner of the Donald F. & Katherine K. Dahlstrom Scholarship
- Carie Cunningham, winner of the Mickie L. Edwardson Endowed Scholarship
Information and past winners of Knight Center awards are here. Information and past winners of Knight Center scholarships are here.