Category Archives: Writing

Echo staffer provides tips for covering sustainable agriculture

Marie Orttenburger

Marie Orttenburger

A visit to the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference provided a new tool for the organization’s toolkit for reporters covering the environment.

Marie Orttenburger wrote up information provided at a conference panel and did additional research for a tipsheet on covering sustainable agriculture for the organization’s online toolbox. Find it here.

Orttenburger is an assistant editor and reporter at Great Lakes Echo – the news service provided by Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.



Lessons from the Trump surprise

PoulsonTeachBy David Poulson

The post-election analysis of the U.S. presidential race contains excellent lessons for communicating research and science.

Here’s why:

The question many people are now puzzling over is how could all those highly-educated, highly-paid statisticians and pollsters get the election so wrong. Seemingly no one projected a Trump victory.

And now the science of polling is taking a beating. It may never recover.

Perhaps it never should.

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Image: Mike Gifford, Flickr

Cultivating uncertainty through science reporting

Image: Mike Gifford, Flickr.

By Marie Orttenburger

SACRAMENTO – Science is integral to environmental reporting, but it’s also a source of the field’s biggest dilemmas.

Science reporters often find themselves crafting imperfect metaphors, navigating complex findings, trying not to overwhelm the reader with data. And they’re doing all of that while struggling to understand the science themselves.

The “EJ Reporting: Don’t Forget the Science” panel at the Society of Environmental Journalist’s recent 26th annual conference tackled this challenge.  The discussion, featuring science reporters Sarah Zielinski, Dan Fagin, Janet Raloff and Christopher Joyce, opened with some reassurance. 

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Scientists, window-washers and gender

By David Poulson
I was a bit surprised this week to get a press release from the University of Michigan titled, “Female scientists to sample plastics in all five Great Lakes.”
Here’s the lede:
“ANN ARBOR—Female scientists from the U.S. and Canada will set sail Aug. 20 on all five Great Lakes and connecting waterways to sample plastic debris pollution and to raise public awareness about the issue.”
 Microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes is an important story. It’s one that we’ve often covered on the Knight Center’s environmental news service.
And this certainly seems like a story:
“Teams of researchers will collect plastic debris on the five Great Lakes, as well Lake St. Clair-Detroit River and the Saint Lawrence River. Data collected will contribute to growing open-source databases documenting plastic and toxic pollution and their impacts on biodiversity and waterway health, according to event organizers.”
But isn’t it the substance of the endeavor that’s newsworthy – rather than the gender of those implementing it?

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