Advocating for improved reporting on the environment is central to my job at Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.
But apparently most of you agree that it’s a good idea.
In fact, nearly 80 percent of Americans believe news coverage of the environment should be improved, according to a national poll commissioned by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage.
The Opinion Research Corp. conducted the poll April 14-15. And, full disclosure, I’m among a group of environmental journalism professionals who helped craft a vision for the organization that commissioned it.
“This poll tells us that there is a shared common interest in being better informed about environmental issues,” Tyson Miller, the project director, wrote in a news release. “News organizations act as filters for what we perceive as important and improving the quality of environmental coverage not only has significant social value but it’s also something news consumers want.”
Age, location and education made little difference in what the poll found. A slightly higher percentage of non-whites expressed greater concern about the state of environmental reporting.
The project also notes that the Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports news coverage of the environment fell from 2 percent of news stories in 2010 to 1 percent in 2011.
There are lots of reasons that so many news consumers are dissatisfied with coverage of the environment.
And I don’t want to detail any of them here. At least not now.
Instead, I’m asking for your help in a small step toward improving climate change coverage in our Great Lakes region. Our environmental journalism center and the Society of Environmental Journalists are running two workshops this summer for regional journalists and scientists interested in improving that reporting.
Part of the plan is to improve the climate change literacy of journalists and give them access to recent newsy climate change issues. Part of it is to improve the communication skills of scientists and foster a desire within them to communicate with journalists and the public.
And a big part of it is to foster a greater understanding in each group of the other group’s challenges for communicating climate change issues. You and other Great Lakes regional news consumers can benefit from all those things.
Better yet, you can help get them.
Here’s how: Invite a Great Lakes scientist or journalist to apply to attend one of these sessions. It’s a pretty good deal. They are underwritten by the National Science Foundation and are part of a Climate Change Education Partnership, a group of Great Lakes educators encompassing experts in K-12 and university education, scientists and experts at museums, zoos and aquariums.
The participation by the Knight Center and the SEJ comes by defining journalists as informal educators of the public.
The first workshop is June 9 in Cleveland. The official deadline just passed, but there is yet time to get into the mix this week. We are particularly interested in expanding the pool of regional scientists interested in climate change communications. Journalists and scientists can learn more and apply here.
The second one is July 9 and 10 at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Laboratory, a Long Term Ecological Research Station supported by the National Science Foundation. More details will be coming on that one, but you can get on the list at the URL referenced in the Cleveland announcement above.
So tell your favorite Great Lakes scientists or journalists that you’re part of the 80 percent who want to read more and better coverage of the environment. Perhaps better yet, tell some that aren’t your favorites. Maybe you’ll like them better after we get through with them.
Regardless, tell them that you need them to help figure out how to get better and more climate change coverage into Great Lakes media.