Author Archives: ericfreedman

Get off your butt and report

Members of the Society of Environmental Journalists, wearing floatation vests for safety, interview a Texas Brine representative at the site of the sinkhole. Image: Eric Freeman

Members of the Society of Environmental Journalists, wearing floatation vests for safety, interview a Texas Brine representative at the site of the sinkhole. Image: Eric Freedman

By Eric Freedman

The easy thing for you as a journalist is to phone a few experts and bureaucrats, do some Internet research for background and write a news story or feature about the mega-sinkhole sinkhole near the tiny southern Louisiana community of Bayou Corne.

Or you as a journalist could get off your butt, step away from the computer screen, tuck your cellphone into your pocket and see it up close and personal.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Green versus green and energy dilemmas

Eric Freedman

Eric Freedman

About twice a year I drive roundtrip between Michigan and Colorado, about 1,200 miles each way. Each time I marvel at the array of wind turbines – hundreds of them – on the high ridges along both sides of Interstate 80 in western Iowa. This in a state with mega-acres of corn grown to make ethanol.

In fact, Iowa ranked first in the nation in ethanol production last year, with Michigan in 11th place. And it gets the highest percentage of its electricity – about 25% — from wind, contrasted with Michigan’s 1%, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures for 2012.

Closer to home, I drove by Michigan’s largest wind turbine array in Gratiot County on my way from Lansing to Midland last fall.

Continue reading

World Press Freedom Day in a “not free” place

Askat Dukenbaev announces the Freedom House "Freedom of the Press" results for Kyrgyzstan at a press conference. Image: Eric Freedman

Askat Dukenbaev announces the Freedom House “Freedom of the Press” results for Kyrgyzstan at a press conference. Image: Eric Freedman

By Eric Freedman

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – May 1 was World Press Freedom Day, an event marked – but not celebrated – by release of Freedom House’s annual country-by-country assessment of the state of press rights across the globe.

Clearly 2013 wasn’t a stellar year. As Karin Karlekar, the Freedom House project director, said in releasing the 2014 report, “We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger.”

Continue reading