Knight Center alum wins national SEJ award, gives tips for success

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

By David Poulson

A graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism has  won national recognition for a series of environmental stories about the Great Lakes.

Brian Bienkowski, now a reporter and editor at Environmental Health News, received second place in a beat reporting category in the contest sponsored by the national Society of Environmental Journalists.

The series is called Stories of the Great Lakes’ People, Places and Creatures.

Bienkowski, a former reporter for the center’s Great Lakes Echo news service,  also received the same award in the same contest last year. He received his masters in journalism degree with a concentration in environmental reporting in 2012 and is the recipient of the center’s Rachel Carson award for outstanding graduate student in environmental journalism.

Here’s a quick Q & A that probes his formula for success:

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Journalists, Great Lakes explorers at rest in Congressional Cemetery

Image: Eric Freedman

Image: Eric Freedman

By Eric Freedman

The Congressional Cemetery sprawls across 32½ acres in the southeastern part of the nation’s capital. Despite its name, most of those buried there – like Mathew Brady and Anne Newport Royall – aren’t former members of the House or Senate.

For those of us who care about journalism, Brady was the groundbreaking Civil War photographer who is credited as the “father of photojournalism.”

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Knight Center faculty, students to present ethanol headline research

Research Director Bruno Takahashi and Knight Center graduate students, Carol Terracina-Hartman and Katie Amann, are presenting research at the upcoming AEJMC Conference in Montreal, August 6-9, 2014.

The poster presentation, “Headlining energy issues: A content analysis of ethanol headlines in the U.S. elite press,” examines issue attributes, themes, tone, and sources in headlines between 1987 and 2011.

This study is a collaboration with Mark Meisner, executive director of the International Environmental Communication Association.

Knight Center faculty affiliate, John Besley (ADV/PR) is also presenting research at AEJMC. His presentations are: “Predictors of Perceptions of Scientists: Comparing 2001 and 2012,” and  Scientists’ prioritization of goals for online public communication.” The second study is a collaboration with Anthony Dudo, University of Texas at Austin

Study finds major holes in coverage of environmental issues in Central Asia

Eric Freedman

Eric Freedman

News media provide little in-depth coverage of transborder environmental issues in formerly Soviet Central Asia, a new study by Knight Center director Eric Freedman found.

Most news organizations in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan inadequately cover such issues as water scarcity and allocation, climate change, toxic waste and energy in the Ferghana Valley, an agriculturally highly productive and densely populated region.

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Call for abstracts for research on risk and decision making

The Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University is soliciting abstracts from undergraduate and graduate students for the program’s 2014 Research Symposium, Environmental Risk and Decision Making.

The symposium is slated for October 10th at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center. Knight Center Research Director Bruno Takahashi is on the symposium’s faculty advisory board and doctoral student Shannon Cruz is on the organizing committee.

This year’s theme connects environmental risk and decision making. Organizers propose to connect ideas and researchers from across campus in awareness and action toward identifying hazards and the most appropriate response to these hazards. A holistic approach toward sustainability requires multiple perspectives, and this program foster this interdisciplinary sharing. This symposium will explore research alongside policy makers, among public stakeholders, and across disciplines to better unite future leaders in addressing the state of the environment.

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Can a tether unleash drones for environmental reporting

Image: Fotokte

Image: Fotokte

By David Poulson

Simple solutions to complex problems are best.

And I think I may have stumbled over one relevant to experimental environmental journalism.

Here at the Knight Center for Envrionmental Journalism we report on the potential of drones in a number of non-military applications. It’s sort of a swords-into-plowshares tale with twists involving privacy, safety, ethics and other red flags.

Our interest is driven by a desire to explore new methods of gathering environmental data and of telling environmental stories. Drones have exciting potential that we have explored in the classroom at Michigan State University’s School of Journalism.

We’ll do that again this fall in JRN472 and JRN 872, News eye in the clear sky. Meanwhile, check out this development.

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Carbon, coal and the Knight Center

By Eric Freedman

President Obama’s recent proposal to reduce power plant emissions that contribute substantially to climate change has drawn renewed attention to the scientifically validated connection between burning coal and disruption of the climate.

It also drew predictable objections from Republicans: job destroyer, too expensive, unnecessary, presidential power grab – even the discredited argument that there’s no such thing as human-induced climate change. The traditional utility industry raised objections as well, centered on practicality and cost.

Coal is important to Michigan – which has no coal mines of its own –which imported more than 7 million tons in the last three months of 2013 to provide more than half the state’s electricity. It’s also important to other Great Lakes states. Indiana, Ohio and Illinois – all of which do have coal mines – were among the five states importing the most coal last year.

The connection between coal and environmental damage isn’t news to those of us at the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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