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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Chasing clouds

CloudFactoriesCover-336x537

By David Poulson

In 1673, fur trader Louis Joliet and the Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette spotted coal outcroppings along the Illinois River.

That’s the first recorded coal find in the U.S.

And it’s an indication of just how deep the roots of conflict run in Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the fight to shut down Chicago’s coal plants.

The book picks up on other historical gems such as how turning the midway of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair into the “City of Lights” helped determine how the rest of the nation would be electrified. And we are introduced to Samuel Insull, a former assistant to Thomas Edison. His shrewd capture of the demand for electricity by street car companies fueled the growth of Chicago’s power grid.

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River in the prairie

Turtle River and Civilian Conservation Corps pavilion at Turtle River State Park. Image: Eric Freedman

Turtle River and Civilian Conservation Corps pavilion at Turtle River State Park. Image: Eric Freedman

By Eric Freedman

This place doesn’t match your North Dakota stereotype of endless prairie stretching flat to the horizon in all directions, having been squashed flat by massive glaciers. Nor does it match your stereotype of marathon acres of wheat, flaxseed, barley and oats punctuated with International Harvester and John Deere mega-equipment. Nor that of the proliferating roads, dust and drilling rigs of the Oil Patch that’s bringing jobs and economic prosperity – and environmental worries – to the state. Continue reading