Reporting on the environment is a tough job


Genevieve Fox, far right, and other journalists tour the Carmeuse Lime Manufacturing Plant in River Rogue, Michigan, and listen to Simone Sagovic, project manager at The Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, speak about the health problems of people living nearby. Image: Aaron J. Thornton

By Clara Lincolnhol

Environmental journalism is a difficult yet important field, says a freelance journalist who will be speaking at an upcoming environmental festival in Manistee, Michigan.

“Sometimes you’re asking people difficult questions,” said Genevieve Fox, a former Great Lakes Echo reporter who now writes for Planet Detroit, Metromode and The Keel. “A lot of times you’re talking to scientists and researchers and sometimes they can have a hard time communicating what they mean because they’re so focused into their work.”

Fox, who graduated from Michigan State University in 2023, primarily covers issues in the Detroit area. She is among the speakers who will be at the Great Lakes Environmental Festival which showcases films, musical performances, technological innovations, articles and speeches from people in environmental related fields.

The Great Lakes Environmental Festival is slated for April 19-21 and intends to generate public interest in caring for the environment and conversations surrounding climate change, said Ziggy Kozicki, the organizer of the festival and professor of population health at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Fox’s most recent story is on artificial beaver dams appearing in Outdoor News. One of her favorite stories she’s written is a piece on dogs that sniff out spotted lantern flies, an invasive insect that causes damage to native plant species.

“We forget how useful and resourceful dogs are sometimes, I think,” Fox said.

Another favorite is about a tree planting event in her hometown. The event was a part of the movement to increase the number of green spaces in urban areas, specifically Detroit.

While covering the event, she said there was a strong sense of community.

“It felt so interconnected,”  Fox said. “I like that personal connection that you can sometimes have in smaller communities.”

Genevieve Fox is an award winning, freelance environmental journalist who covers issues in southeast Michigan.

Fox will be speaking the first day of the festival about the importance of environmental journalism to high school students.

“The environment impacts every sector in our lives, from health, education, every single point you could ever think of, everything falls back to the environment.” she said.

Fox plans to speak to students about her experience working as a former staff writer for Great Lakes Echo and freelancing for Michigan news outlets such as Planet Detroit, Metromode, The Keel, Outdoor News and Second Wave Media.

Students will be able to ask Fox questions about what a career in journalism is like and how she got into the profession.

“Just whatever general curious questions they have and guidance I can give them essentially,” she said.

Fox said she has always loved writing. She wrote for her high school’s yearbook and once she got to college she began writing for MSU’s Her Campus. She switched her major to journalism from environmental studies and sustainability and began writing for the Spartan Newsroom and then Great Lakes Echo. Fox also worked as an environmental reporter for WKAR during her time at Michigan State University.

Fox said she wants to emphasize the urgency and importance of getting environmental related information out to the public, especially solutions for environmental issues.

“If we don’t learn how to take care of it (the environment) or lessen these environmental impacts then we’re not going to be left with much,” she said.

Difficulties of environmental reporting can include people’s preconceived notions and beliefs about environmental issues, such as climate change, she said. Another challenge is explaining scientific concepts and studies to the general public.

“I think a lot of people sometimes might have assumptions about certain things or a lot of people don’t understand science either,” she said. “As communicators of science, I think it’s important for us to find a way to make it so a lot of people will listen or reel it in.”

People are more likely to listen when environmental issues are localized, she said. It allows them to see an issue’s greater impact.

On the second day of the festival, Fox says she will return to give a presentation about environmental reporting trends in Michigan, the challenges surrounding environmental reporting, finding and reporting on solutions and a discussion on advocacy.

Fox said that she was asked to speak and attend the festival after writing an article for Great Lakes Echo about The Great Lakes Environmental Festival last year.

After seeing her article, Ziggy Kozicki, interviewed her about health and climate on his podcast, “Healthy People Healthy Life.”

Kozicki hopes that the festival will inspire people to alter their lifestyles with the benefit of the environment in mind, and find ways to connect with the public to incentivize more sustainable practices.

“The reason that we started GLEF in the first place, is that we want to get people to imagine that there are solutions and that these solutions can happen,” Kozick said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting it going.”

The Great Lakes Environmental Festival begins at 10:00 a.m. April 20 at Manistee High School, 525 12th St., Manistee, Michigan.

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