Environmental journalism

PandoDaily explains climate change in musical explainer

PandoDaily’s David Holmes has published a new, interactive explainer on climate change. “[W]e wanted to see if we could take the ‘explainer song’ model and make it more social and interactive,” Holmes tells Poynter in an email. “Climate Change, Remixed” lets viewers add or remove instrumentation, including a “bumping car” button that adds “The Chronic”-style sounds and — if for some reason you need such a thing in your life — slap bass.

Here’s the noninteractive version of the song (the more fun one is here)

Holmes wrote the song with Andrew Bean, who he says plays most of the instruments on the track. Both men sang. Sharon Shattuck worked on the art and animation, Holmes said, and Zach Thompson coded it. “We were inspired by interactive music projects like this one by the band ABBY,” he said in his email. Read more

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Washington Post preserves environmental coverage while moving staff

The Huffington Post | Slate
Juliet Eilperin is switching from The Washington Post’s environment beat to its “online strike force” in politics. Rest easy, those of you concerned by The New York Times’ decision to shutter its Green blog not long after closing down its environment pod — the move doesn’t reflect a change in the number of people the Post will throw at environment coverage.

“Darryl Fears is still on the environment beat for us and Juliet’s position will be backfilled,” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti writes to Poynter in an email, using the latter term to indicate Eilperin’s opening will likely be filled by someone within the company. Eilperin, she adds, “is also taking her expertise with her — she will be reporting on the debate over climate change and environmental policy from her White House perch.”

Will Oremus counts some of “the 65-odd other Times blogs that did not get the axe”:

Five blogs on culture and media, including “The Carbetbagger,” about awards shows; “After Deadline: Notes from the newsroom on grammar, usage and style;” and “Media Decoder,” a media-industry blog that so far has not seen fit to cover the Times’ own elimination of its “Green” blog.

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NYT closes its environment desk, reassigns journalists

InsideClimate News | The Daily Climate
The nine journalists on The New York Times’ environment desk learned Wednesday they will be reassigned, Katherine Bagley reports. “No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk,” Bagley writes. Managing Editor for news operations Dean Baquet told Bagley the move was “wasn’t a decision we made lightly.” The “structural matter” was not related to budget, he said.

Baquet said the change “was prompted by the shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting,” Bagley writes.

When the desk was created in early 2009, the environmental beat was largely seen as “singular and isolated,” he said. It was pre-fracking and pre-economic collapse. But today, environmental stories are “partly business, economic, national or local, among other subjects,” Baquet said.

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Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry makes a campaign stop at the Iowa 80 Group in Walcott, Iowa, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Rick Perry’s assertions on global warming reveal reporting challenges when science, politics collide

In the course of two days last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed controversial views on two politically sensitive scientific issues. The news coverage of his remarks once again demonstrated the challenge journalists face when science intermingles with politics.

Perry, the newly announced candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested that man-made climate change is little more than a hoax, perpetrated by “a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data.” Then, a day later, he voiced skepticism about evolution, which he called a theory “with gaps in it.”

Perry’s assertions weren’t new or terribly surprising. He’s spoken before about his doubts regarding climate change (his recent book calls it “a contrived phony mess”) and his belief in “intelligent design.” And other GOP presidential candidates, most notably U.S. Read more


Environmental journalists group names contest winners

Society of Environmental Journalists
The Society of Environmental Journalists has named 18 winners of the 2010-2011 Awards for Reporting on the Environment. The contest is the world’s largest and most comprehensive awards for journalism on environmental topics. (There were 207 entries this year.) The first place winners are:

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Large Market
“The True Story Behind the Oil Spill” by Abrahm Lustgarten, Journalist, ProPublica, with independent producers Martin Smith, Marcela Gaviria and Ryan Knutson for PBS Frontline.

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market
“Chinese Drywall: Why one of the biggest defective product investigations in U.S. history has left homeowners struggling for help” by Joaquin Sapien, Reporter, ProPublica; Aaron Kessler, Reporter, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; and Jeff Larson, News Applications Developer, ProPublica. Read more


From Schoolhouse Rock to ‘The Fracking Song,’ explainers as ‘acts of empathy’

In all the years he’s been playing the guitar and keyboard, David Holmes never pictured himself recording a song about hydraulic fractured drilling.

But Holmes, a journalism student in New York University’s Studio 20 program, recently did just that as part of Studio 20’s “Building a Better Explainer Project.”

The explainer, called the “The Fracking Song,” unravels the complexities of natural gas drilling and has already gotten about 78,000 hits on YouTube since it launched last week. Holmes created the song to go along with a related investigation by ProPublica, which is a partner in the Studio 20 project.

“We were concerned with building a better entryway into that investigation and we figured a song would be the perfect way to do it — especially since it’s called fracking,” Holmes said by phone. Read more


Columbia names winners of Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting

Romenesko Misc.
The $5,000 first place award goes to The Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the BBC’s International News Service for their collaborative investigation of the asbestos market. Second place goes to The New Orleans Times-Picayune for its extensive and enterprising coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Egan wins third-place honors for “Great Lakes, Great Peril: A Road Map to Restoration.” Read more


Kamb’s ‘Chain Saw Scouting’ series wins Knight-Risser environmental journalism award

Lewis Kamb‘s project — initiated while was working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — revealed land-use practices by the Boy Scouts of America in direct opposition of their mandate to preserve and protect the environment. Read more


Candidates For Office Need to Hear More Precise Questions

I am sick of the uninspired campaigns of 2010. The candidates all say the same things: “I am for lower taxes, I am against illegal immigration, I will stand up for the middle class and blah blah blah … “

I wonder how a candidate would answer the question, “If you had to cut one federal program, which one would it be, and why?”

I also would ask candidates some specific questions, including:

 Would you support privatizing the U.S. Postal Service? Last week, we learned the USPS is, once again, close to being broke and is digging a deeper hole by the week. Part of the issue is that the Postal Service competes against free enterprise but is saddled with regulation about pricing, services, employee contracts and Congressmen who fight closing useless facilities. Read more


Why Today’s Cars May Not Need Oil Changes Every 3,000 Miles

I know I am wasting money, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to go against my dad’s advice from 35 years ago.

He changed his car’s oil every 3,000 miles. So do I. But today’s cars don’t need oil changes as often as we think, according to a New York Times story. In fact, you could probably go twice as long between oil changes and have no problems at all, the story says. Changing oil too often could even be considered wasteful and an environmental issue.

I may be coming around to a new way of thinking after reading the Times piece:

“The California Integrated Waste Management Board ran public service announcements for several years about ‘the 3,000-mile myth,’ urging drivers to wait longer between oil changes. Read more

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