See part 2 here.
For a journalist, the idea of taking on an environmental beat could be intimidating.
Environmental news covers a vast range of stories.
“Environmental journalism is journalism and not activism,” says Seattle-based TV investigative reporter Jeff Burnside. “The spectrum is massive. The environmental beat can cover everything from endangered species in Africa to the chemicals under your kitchen sink.”
Burnside is the board president of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He’s been covering news for 25 years; environmental stories are just one of his focus.
But it’s a huge beat. Take climate change.
Burnside says in climate change alone, relevant issues include:
- The price and availability of seafood especially shellfish hampered by ocean acidification
- Where to build infrastructure like roads and community pump stations as future sea levels rise
- Coral reef decline and its impact on tourism and fishing
- Policy regarding incentives in solar and wind energy to reduce fossil fuels like coal-burning power plant emissions
- Debate over permits to construct shipping terminals to send coal or shale oil to Asia
- Salmon runs impacted by drought and low snow pack
- Algae blooms that ignite massive fish kills
- Extreme weather (heatwaves, storms, drought, floods, stronger hurricanes) documented to have killed many thousands
But while the issues still run deep, environmental journalism has become less niche and far more mainstream, especially as younger generations in particular show a growing interest in the needs of our planet.
A variety of publications are now integrating more environmental news stories in a way that’s accessible, consumable, and relatable, in order to get global issues into the hands of the everyday reader.
With Earth Day coming up this week, we wanted to pay homage to our favorite news sites that are producing fresh, bold environmental news coverage for their audience.
1. For a fun take on green news.
Grist aims to get people talking, thinking, and taking action by translating complex issues into stories that make sense. Grist writes: “You know how some people make lemonade out of lemons? At Grist, we’re making lemonade out of looming climate apocalypse.”
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2. For the inside dirt on under-reported stories.
The Vice brand tackles serious news topics for the connected generation. Their environmental reporting – much like the rest of the subjects they cover – is not typically reported on by mainstream media. They “provide an unvarnished look at some of the most important events of our time, highlight under-reported stories from around the globe, and get to the heart of the matter with reporters who call it like they see it,” writes Vice News.
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3. For artsy narrative on nature.
Orion Magazine is “known for its grounding in literature, the arts, and a philosophical exploration of how we live with the natural world.” Its writers work to connect to and promote dialogue with readers through imaginative essays – both fiction and non-fiction – about the environment and related cultural commentary.
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4. For a look at future & sustainable design.
Inhabitat is devoted to the “future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.” It’s a cool site filled with a range of stories, from timely news to practical tips on sustainable living.
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5. For all things green technology.
EarthTechling is a site by writers and technologists that aim to bring environmental-related news, trends, and green advancements to consumers – designed in a way that’s “simple to consume and easy to share.” Topics range from electric vehicles and clean energy to green gadgets, green buildings, and beyond.
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6. For an opinionated look at humanity’s impact on the planet.
DotEarth is an award-winning blog housed in the New York Times’ opinion pages and written by long-time journalist Andrew C. Revkin. After 15 years of reporting for the Times, Revkin left the staff to become a senior fellow at Pace University’s Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies – though he continues to write for the blog. In his posts, Revkin “examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits,” touching on developments across the globe.
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7. For quick news bites on earthly matters.
TreeHugger works to push environmental news mainstream via up-to-the-minute updates and regular conversation on social media, touching on everything from green design and living a sustainable lifestyle, to eco-friendly advancements in business and technology. “Partial to a modern aesthetic, we strive to be a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information,” writes TreeHugger.
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8. For the best aggregation of environmental stories.
SEJ is designed by journalists to strengthen and increase news coverage of environmental issues. The group “provides educational opportunities and vital support to journalists of all media who face the challenging responsibility of covering complex environmental issues.” It’s also the only site curated by environmental journalists, providing top headlines and a wealth of other information for journalists and citizens alike.
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9. For all things climate change.
Climate Central is an “independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public.” Its writers report on the scientific facts – however the facts may fall – in order to educate the public and support healthy debate. Expect examinations of climate science, energy, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and more.
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10. For a visual exploration of our planet.
We couldn’t not give a shout to National Geographic. This veteran news source has always been dedicated to exploring and protecting the planet. Through strong reporting and extensive pictorial content, the publication aims to connect the dots from people to the issues, giving readers a front row seat “to the stories that matter.”
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11. For Earth Day. Come on, we had to include Discovery.
Discovery News is an icon. The Earth section features video, extreme weather and events, and stories on plants, oceans, global warming, and rocks and fossils. Where else can you — or would you want to — look for news about whether you can outrun a supervolcano (Answer: Maybe) or read about what’s better for Earth: bacon or lettuce? (We’re sure you have an opinion.)
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Authors Anna Jasinski and Christine Cube work in audience relations at PR Newswire. You can catch them sharing journalism and blogging news on @BeyondBylines, or you can follow them on their personal handles at @annamjasinski and @cpcube.