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.



New SEJ executive director seeks new members and funds

Melisa Klem

Melisa Klem

By Karen Hopper Usher

EAST LANSING — Money, access and people. Those are Melisa Klem’s priorities as the new executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

While not a journalist, Klem’s work in proposal and grant writing is that of a person who knows how to wield words.

“I consider writing proposals to be a competitive sport,”  said Klem, who began her new job with the start of the new year. Her most recent post was as director of development at the Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

She said she loves fundraising and was looking for an opportunity to become an executive director of a non-profit organization.

“SEJ needs a fundraiser at the helm, and I think we’ve found that,” said Bobby Magill, president of the society’s board of directors.

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Research director publishes study on Spanish-Language media coverage of environmental issues

Knight Center research director Bruno Takahashi and faculty affiliate Manuel Chavez published a study titled “El Ambiente y Las Noticias: Understanding U.S. Spanish- Language Newsrooms’ Coverage of Environmental Issues” in the International Journal of Hispanic Media.

The study was co-authored with Juliet Pinto and Mercedes Vigón from Florida International University.

The researchers examined the content of environmental news in Spanish-language television stations and newspapers, reporting a very limited amount of coverage that mostly focused on specific events, such as hurricane Sandy.

They also interviewed 12 news professionals at various Spanish-language news organizations to examine their coverage of environmental issues. The findings demonstrate that the impact of revenue-streams needs, the perception that environmental news is not important, and the perception that environmental coverage lacks immediacy and impact are the main factors explaining the lack of coverage of issues such as climate change.

The results of the study are important because the Hispanic population will continue to grow in size and power in the U.S., and the coverage of environmental issues such as climate change will become more important for them. Understanding the gaps in the coverage and the factors preventing such coverage is a necessary step in improving environmental reporting by Spanish-language media.

The study can be accessed here.

Scientists raise alarm over decline of invasive species in East African great lake

A fisherman carries two large Nile perch fish at Lihunda Beach in Lake Victoria on June 26, 2016. Image: Tonny Omondi

A fisherman carries two large Nile perch fish at Lihunda Beach in Lake Victoria on June 26, 2016. Image: Tonny Omondi

By Halima Abdallah

Editor’s note: Uganda-based reporter Halima Abdallah of The East African developed this story at an environmental journalism workshop led by Eric Freedman, director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism which publishes Great Lakes Echo.

Will the commercial viability of Lake Victoria and its ecosystem be sustained? This is the question arising from re-emergence of low value native species like dagaa against dwindling stocks of high-value species like the Nile perch.

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