Features

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SEJournal Online's regular Features section cover a wide-range of environmentally related topics in a variety of formats, including essays, first-hand accounts of reporting work, news analysis and opinion. For questions and comments, to suggest future Features or to offer to write one, email SEJournal Associate Editor Frances Backhouse at Frances@Backhouse.ca or SEJournal Features editor Cheryl Hogue at c_hogue@acs.org.

 

June 29, 2022

  • In 2006, a local government council in Pennsylvania concerned about sewage sludge dumping enacted the Western legal system’s first formal “rights of nature” instrument. Today, numerous countries have laws recognizing specific rights or even legal personhood for nature. As legal expert Alice Bleby explains, this new perspective arises from a wide range of contexts and plays out in many different ways.

June 1, 2022

  • As drought continues to afflict the southwestern United States, New Mexico PBS correspondent and producer Laura Paskus writes that environmental journalists must bring home its impact on local communities, while translating the science, making the connection with climate change and holding public officials accountable. Plus, reporting resources and a reminder that the story is too big for any one journalist.

May 4, 2022

  • 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.

April 13, 2022

  • If it often feels like the world of environmental journalism is all dour worry over our collective futures, resident humorist David Helvarg is here to remind you that our present is just as scary — if for different, and funnier, reasons. In his latest lampoon of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference, Helvarg shares his trademark jests from Houston. Plus, (straighter) reportage from the gathering at the conference coverage page.

March 30, 2022

  • Climate change reporting is sometimes peppered with jargon that confounds rather than clearly communicates. Audiences may miss not just one story’s message, but lose interest in the broader topic. Contributor Rebecca Hersher, a science reporter for National Public Radio, writes how the public’s connection with climate information increases when both journalists and scientists strive to replace elite terminology with simple and accurate language.

February 2, 2022

  • Environmental journalist Khalid Bencherif struggled to bring the emergent effects of climate change to the attention of local audiences facing many other pressing problems. So he told a powerful story grounded in personal experience, traveling to his childhood home in Morocco’s Tafilalet region, where deepening drought is hitting the oases hard and driving many villagers from their homes.

January 26, 2022

December 8, 2021

  • The Mississippi River and its tributaries drain more than 40% of the continent, but most coverage of environmental stories within the Mississippi Basin is localized and siloed. The recently launched Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk hopes to help news outlets provide region-wide reporting that contextualizes issues like climate change-driven flooding and the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

November 10, 2021

  • After an 18-month buildup, a one-day U.N. Food Systems Summit earlier this fall generated hundreds of commitments to end global hunger and a dizzying array of alliances dedicated to the cause. Despite controversies surrounding the summit, this groundbreaking event highlighted opportunities for reporting on food and food systems. Award-winning agriculture journalist Chris Clayton shares his insights.

October 6, 2021

  • A growing body of research shows the links between global warming and extreme weather. And that knowledge can help communities prepare, and assign responsibility for damages. Veteran climate journalist Bob Berwyn lays out the science of climate attribution — for heat waves, flooding, wildfires and, ironically, crop-killing freezes — and discusses its implications for future climate change policy.

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