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December 13, 2008



Joel, I was disheartened by your article of so many E-journalists being let go. It seems that their expertise is expendable. Kind of like anyone can write a story.

Also, I am worried about the sound bites and misinformation that you read through the blogosphere. So many people do not do their homework. As you said, in order to cover a story accurately, you have to know the right questions to ask first.

Perhaps quantity not quality is still the standard these days.

Barb Haig

Joel, your assessment is right on. I've attended several SEJ conferences, and as a former journalist, I was astonished at how closed-minded many working reporters are about reporting on business and the environment. I've suggested to SEJ that they include more sessions on business to no avail.

A trend I see, however, is local reporters (especially Thomas Content at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Tim Wheeler at the Baltimore Sun) developing great stories about how businesses are both embracing and struggling with green initiatives. They have done a service to their readers by jumping past the PR aspect and going to the triple-bottom-line impact on local communities.

Perhaps the pendulum will swing local for awhile until national media outlets understand what's really important.

Pam Strayer

I went to the SEJ meeting in 2007 at Stanford and was shocked then to hear about cutbacks were already affecting environmental journalists, who, due to staff downsizing overall, were being asked to cover non-environmental beats to make up for staff shortages.

I've been warning for some time that the burden of covering the environment will fall on the shoulders of environmental groups. We must train them more to produce content and help them learn how to use the state of the art tools to get these messages across using social media and networks, much like the Obama campaign did.

Recent developments are accelerating the need for help for those who care to become information providers and trusted sources.

The biggest irony of course is that all these big companies and media want to wave the green flag on eco-goodness for their brands, yet who is stepping up the plate and defending environmental reporting? In the long view, this may go down as an error equally colossal or perhaps greater than the current subprime meltdown sparking global financial crisis.

Don Carli

Great insights Joel...

Until the bean counters and their creditors count triple bottom line beans, we can expect the ranks of environmental journalists at over-leveraged media companies to continue to thin. The trend seems to be that local news outlets, journals, newsletters, trade publications, blogs and social networking sites like Twitter are where environmental journalists will be found.

Never has there arguably been a greater public need for independent, high quality journalism in the United States. Perhaps the answer is crowd-funded nonprofit sustainability journalism.

Don Carli

Nonprofit and "crowdfunding" vehicles like www.Spot.us and www.kiva.org are among of the ways independent environmental journalist finance their work.

Sites like http://newstrust.net/ can help to establish trust. The key questions remaining are:

What is the perceived value of a story vs. the talent, skill, time and cost required to research and write it... and are these business models sustainable?

carol cone

Is there anyway to start a groundswell of outrage from citizens who want to be informed in a sophisticated manner by journalists, like Marc Gunther and others, who have deep expertise and context for our green future?

Can you start a social media revolution, Joel towards this end?????


Thanks for the news Joel. If they were interested, I wonder if those top notch reporters laid off could come togather as a media coop and market themselves well enough to get the attention of business and lay alike? Yes reader/viewer supported as well as sustainable business supported--in all areas. Let it begin the revolution in earnest.


Thanks for sounding the alarm on this. Very disturbing -- and agree with Carol that a collective burst of outrage is needed. Within the bad news is the opportunity to provide briefings (webinars?) for this non-expert reporters and editors, beyond your one-to-one phone commentary. As part of this effort, let's break down the silos that separate business and NGO/issue coverage. It's time to connect the dots between the scientific news (e.g., on climate change), policy developments, NGO work/concerns, and business contributions. With fewer journalistic ears (or email boxes), it's time to work together to integrate the stories we're telling -- to send one message instead of one hundred a day.

Poet LLC

Maybe that's why I had to go to foreign web sites like the BBC to get continuous coverage of Poznan?


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no, most environmental journalists are fiction writers.

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no, most environmental journalists are fiction writers.Thanks for sharing.

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Whoa, even the CNN layoff its reporters. I thought since CNN is a trusted news media, it shouldn't lay off its well experienced journalists. Well, probably, going green is not important right now.

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