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Issue Backgrounders are a monthly SEJournal Online feature to help journalists better cover emerging environmental issues, especially challenging or under-reported topics. Each Issue Backgrounder focuses on a specific environmental topic, offering key questions, basic answers, source contacts and other resources. For questions and comments, or to suggest future Issue Backgrounders, email Backgrounder editor Joseph A. Davis at


October 15, 2014

  • In this excerpt from the latest issue of SEJournal (Fall), Bobby Magill's special report offers coverage basics and questions to ask when you are reporting on the spread of shale oil and gas development.

July 15, 2014

October 15, 2013

  • This special report on climate change adaptation will help environmental journalists better understand and cover this growing topic. Top-notch beat reporters share how to best get at the nuts and bolts of adaptation in coastal communities and agricultural ones, a leading communications thinker shares insights into the “message” of adaptation, and we provide snapshots of a few of the many noteworthy adaptation projects, as well as the special challenges faced in one developing nation.

July 15, 2013

April 15, 2013

  • More than one observer has compared covering energy to the folk tale about the blind men who try to describe an elephant, and end up shouting at each other because they’ve each grasped a different part of the beast and believe their portion represents the whole thing. Freelancer Jennifer Weeks reports.

January 15, 2013

September 15, 2012

April 15, 2012