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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, 2011

July 15, 2011

  • Here's a sampling of coverage of recent extreme weather disasters, with particular focus on a few of the many enterprise stories that emanated from four clusters of events — the tsunami-caused crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, drought and wildfires in Texas, death-dealing tornadoes in the Southeast and massive flooding in the Mississippi River system.

  • Everything from the social media’s importance to the need for a detailed disaster plan — Robert A. Thomas, professor and director of the Center for Environmental Communication, School of Mass Communication at Loyola University in New Orleans, outlines 17 take-away lessons for journalists.

April 15, 2011

January 15, 2011

October 15, 2010

  • For journalists covering major energy- and environment-related stories and natural disasters, the visually gushing BP Gulf of Mexico oil leak easily supplanted climate change and other national stories in the steadily shrinking news hole. Yet there are striking parallels between the sudden and in-your-face Gulf BP spill and the incremental and nonlinear climate change issue.

July 15, 2010