Painting extinction

Image: Laura Ball

Image: Laura Ball

By Eric Freedman

The Chelsea neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan has changed considerably since I lived in New York City. Well-maintained brownstones. Cafes and bistros. Lots of bikes. Bumper stickers opposed to fracking and climate change. Recycling bins. Even a sign by a corner park about an upcoming post-Halloween pumpkin composting site.

Chic has replaced cheesy. Upscale has supplanted rundown.

So Chelsea wasn’t an unlikely neighborhood for me to find extinction, or at least San Diego artist Laura Ball’s homage in watercolor to species in jeopardy of extinction.

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J-School grad lands oil industry reporting job

Andrew AtwalMichigan State University J-School graduate Andrew Atwal (BA-2012) recently landed a job reporting on oil markets for the Oil Price Information Service.

The service provides in-depth reporting on petroleum pricing and news. The service, which began covering the petroleum industry in 1977, has clients that include the top 200 oil companies, thousands of distributors, traders and government and commercial buyers of petroleum products.

Atwal says the position is heavy on database reporting and that the Knight Center environmental reporting class he took at MSU will serve him well in his new job

Since graduating from MSU in 2012, Atwal’s worked as reporter for a small daily newspaper in South Dakota, as well as an assistant editor for a newspaper in Atlantic City, N.J.

Exploring the impact of message framing on environmental capacity building

Knight Center doctoral students Ran Duan and Anthony Van Witsen present research at MSU's Environmental Science and Policy Program's symposium.

Knight Center doctoral students Ran Duan and Anthony Van Witsen present research at MSU’s Environmental Science and Policy Program’s symposium.

Ran Duan and Anthony Van Witsen are studying how the related loss/gain frames and local/distant frames may influence people’s perceptions of climate change issues.

The work could help inform support for environmental capacity building. The pair of Knight Center doctoral students want to investigate how individual perceptions contribute to the capacity of government to tackle climate change.

At a recent MSU Environmental Science and Policy Program poster presentation, Adam Zwickle, who is an assistant professor in School of Criminal Justice, suggested that the researchers consider  “avoiding loss” as a frame.   Jinhua Zhao, the director of the ESPP program, suggested looking at economic gaming which is a form of experimental research on how people make economic choices.

The researchers say such suggestions may help them broadly justify how environmental awareness contributes to environmental capacity building.

Posters analyzed for ability to communicate sustainability messages

Knight Center student Carie Cunningham recently presented an analysis of posters and flyers promoting sustainability.

Knight Center student Carie Cunningham recently presented an analysis of posters and flyers promoting sustainability.

Knight Center student Carie Cunningham recently presented a content analysis of several Michigan State University communications about sustainable practices.

She presented an analysis of flyers and posters at the Environmental Science and Policy Program’s symposium on environmental risk and decision making. The symposium facilitates engagement and exchange of ideas in sustainability, risk, and communication among several disciplines.

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Knight Center director, colleague present study on environmental journalism in Kyrgyzstan

The study examined Kyrgyzstan's most popular Russian-language online news site is 24.kg.

The study examined Kyrgyzstan’s most popular Russian-language online news site is 24.kg.

By Eric Freedman

There’s a dramatic disconnect between the environmental topics covered by two major news organizations and Kyrgyzstan and the issues that environmental nongovernmental organizations- – eco-NGOs – in the country feel are most important.

In addition, those eco-NGOs do a poor job reaching out to the media for coverage of their activities and those underreported environmental issues, meaning they have little influence on building the public policy agenda for the media, the public or government.

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Knight Center grads discuss book, environmental journalism careers

 We interviewed Knight Center graduates Amanda Peterka (BA ’09) and Hannah Northey (MA ’07) about a book they contributed to as reporters for Environment & Energy Publishing in Washington D.C. They also described what it’s like working for the news service and how to prepare for a career in environmental journalism.

Q: Who was the most interesting person you met while reporting for this book?

Amanda Peterka

Amanda Peterka now

Amanda Peterka: We spoke only by phone, but it has to be the former head of the Biofuels Center for North Carolina, W. Stephen Burke. He seemed grateful that I called out of the blue to ask for his story, and when we spoke he chose each word very thoughtfully and deliberately. He writes emails as if he were writing a letter, very formal with the date written out at the top and an electronic signature at the bottom. And I only found this out at the end of our conversation, but he owns the country’s largest collection of miniature folk art houses. I immediately knew he had to be my lede in my chapter on biofuels.

Hannah Northey

Hannah Northey now

Hannah Northey: Jim Rogers, a charismatic and loquacious man who served as president and CEO of Duke Energy for seven years, was an interesting interview – both for what he said and what he didn’t say. Rogers has been burnishing his reputation as an influential and progressive utility executive willing to tackle climate change since he stepped down at Duke. He’s now a familiar face among D.C. energy circles, known for his comments about embracing distributed solar energy and greening the U.S. electric grid. I asked Rogers about criticism that he was leaving a fossil-heavy legacy at Duke despite his call to embrace renewables. Rogers blamed climate-denying Republicans and outdated regulations. Rogers’ view into such a large and complex utility that has a lot of weight in North Carolina was enlightening – it also flies in the face of critics who say Rogers himself didn’t try hard enough to push renewables. Others, notably, have said Rogers just couldn’t “turn the Duke ship.”

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Knight Center graduates contribute to book on energy and politics

Amanda Peterka

Amanda Peterka

Hannah Northey

Hannah Northey

Two graduates of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism helped write a book about how shifting politics have affected North Carolina environment and energy policy.

Turning Carolina Red: Reports From the Front of an Energy Culture War represents an innovative way of explaining energy policy in “politically-charged times,” a story with implications for the rest of the country, according to Environment & Energy Publishing.

Among the eight writers who produced the company’s first ebook are MSU graduates Hannah Northey and Amanda Peterka.

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