A casual query from an editor prompted an investigative reporter to pair up with a data journalism reporter at a partner news organization to dig into the risks that thousands of dry oil wells across California posed to surrounding communities, including many low-income Latino neighborhoods. How the resulting award-winning series came together, in an Inside Story Q&A with reporter Mark Olalde.
A recent study of global cropland expansion highlights several trends that are ripe with environmental news stories. One finding: New farm fields have taken over an area the size of Texas and California combined since the start of the century, an expansion primarily affecting biodiversity-rich natural ecosystems, with Africa leading the cropland boom. Freelancer Gabriel Popkin explores the latest data and the reporting possibilities.
As the weather grows warmer, air pollution from smog typically worsens, as does smoke from spreading wildfires. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox spotlights the data that can help improve your coverage, whether via an easy-to-use report on the state of the air from a prominent nonprofit, or straight from various quality EPA data resources. Find help getting started on your air pollution coverage projects now.
Lead poisoning of U.S. drinking water has been a big headline-grabber in recent years, but there’s an even bigger environmental justice crisis — toxic lead exposure from paint. The latest TipSheet reports that this overlooked school and housing issue is getting new attention, but solving it will be difficult and expensive. Get context, reporting resources and ideas to tackle the story in your community.
A crowdsourced, crowdfunded investigation on the damage caused by the spread of commercial spruce plantations, both to the biodiversity-rich areas of Ireland and the isolated farming communities where they are planted, was the subject of an award-winning report from journalist Niall Sargent. Find out how he ID’d the problem, overcame investigative challenges and ultimately told a human-centered, data-rich story. Our latest Inside Story Q&A.
Environmental writer Allison Cobb, in “Plastic: An Autobiography,” tells the story of the ubiquitous material through a series of interwoven narratives that range from her own experiences with it (including a discarded plastic car bumper), to the corporate origins of its spread and the way it’s now dangerously carpeting nature and damaging human communities. Contributor Nano Riley has a review in our new BookShelf.
Each year brings another update of the Toxics Release Inventory database. And each year, it gets ignored or downplayed by too many news outlets. As the new Reporter’s Toolbox points out, not only does the latest iteration of TRI have some notable updates but it also offers plenty of room for localizable stories. Here’s how to mine the resource.
"A group of New Orleans residents whose homes were built on a toxic landfill decades ago have won a $75.3 million court judgement against the city, its housing authority and the local school board."
"Indiana’s biggest utility can’t make its customers pay more than $200 million in costs related to cleaning up its toxic coal ash, according to a ruling Thursday from the Indiana Supreme Court."
"The Biden administration’s environmental justice efforts scored a big funding boost in the $1.5 trillion government spending bill, but advocates worry whether the increased attention can be sustained given years of promises that have failed to yield results in their communities."