Congress funds and orders up a great array of non-partisan expert explainers on the issues of the day via the Congressional Research Service. Unfortunately, Congress does not think the voting public can handle the truth, and keeps the reports secret. We thank the anonymous leakers who give them to the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists — which thoughtfully publishes them. Here are some that environmental reporters may find useful:
- “Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Research, Development, and Demonstration at the U.S. Department of Energy,” Congressional Research Service (R42496), February 10, 2014, by Peter Folger.
- “Food Fraud and ‘Economically Motivated Adulteration’ of Food and Food Ingredients ,” Congressional Research Service (R43358), January 10, 2014, by Renée Johnson.
- “The FutureGen Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project: A Brief History and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service (R43028), February 10, 2014, by Peter Folger.
- “The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy: In Brief,” Congressional Research Service (R43396), February 10, 2014, by Jared T. Brown.
- “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiations,” Congressional Research Service (R43387), February 4, 2014, by Shayerah Ilias Akhtar and Vivian C. Jones.
- “Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation,” Congressional Research Service (RL30153), February 21, 2014, by John D. Moteff.
- “Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding,” Congressional Research Service (R43407), February 26, 2014, by Peter Folger and Betsy A. Cody.
- “U.S. Rail Transportation of Crude Oil: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service (R43390), February 6, 2014, by John Frittelli, Paul W. Parfomak, Jonathan L. Ramseur, Anthony Andrews, Robert Pirog, and Michael Ratner.
Category Archives: Journalism
We all know it. Some agencies and organizations publish data in PDF format to keep journalists and the public from using the raw data. Take heart. Help is on the way.
There are two kinds of files in the PDF format, a page-description language developed by Adobe for use with its Acrobat reader. One kind arranges text and graphics on a page, and the other is simply a scanned bitmap. Only the first kind is easy to convert to raw data.
One easy software tool — Tabula — was demonstrated at the annual conference of the National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) in Baltimore February 27, 2014. You can download it here.
We gave it a test run. It worked fine, though you want to pay attention to the instructions unless you have a tutor guiding your mouse hand. We started with this PDF — the biggest available database of coal-ash sites from Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project. We ran it through an intermediate stage as a comma-separated-variable (CSV) text file. Then imported it into Excel. It came out as a perfectly good spreadsheet, which you can find here.
Student reporters and educators alike – the National Wildlife Federation’s “Young Reporters for the Environment Competition” is looking for your environmental work!
The contest is open to students ages 13-21. Eligible submissions should demonstrate investigation about an environmental topic, offer solutions, and reflect knowledge of how the topic relates both globally and to the community.
Contest entries are accepted as:
- Single photograph
- Photo essay, consisting of no more than 12 photos
- A written article, no more than 1000 words
- Video, no more than three minutes long
The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2014. National winners, which are announced at the end of April, are then entered into the competition’s international level. International winners are announced on World Environment Day, on June 5. Prizes vary, but include reporting equipment (tablets, cameras, etc.) and Amazon gift cards ranging in value.
For rules and more information, click here.
Full-time, benefits-eligible position with a leading nonprofit journalism organization.
The Daily Climate is one of two online news publications of Environmental Health Sciences. The Daily Climate, its sister publicationEnvironmental Health News and EHS operate as fiscally-sponsored arms of Virginia Organizing, a Charlottesville, Va.-based nonprofit.
The position reports to Daily Climate Editor Douglas Fischer, and is funded by an annual, renewable grant.
- Several years experience in reporting in related fields
- Strong familiarity with /experience in climate science reporting
- Fluency with social media and multi-media tools
- Familiarity with all aspects of the climate beat: energy, environmental impact, politics, economics, history of climate science and climate journalism. Ability to connect the dots between climate science and these other aspects.
- Ability to prospect and pitch unique story ideas with fresh angles
- Skill in spot news, explanatory writing and investigative reporting
The Daily Climate functions as a remote workplace. Employees work from their homes, though this job will require travel for reporting. A 40-hour or more work week is the norm; flexibility in hours is essential. Stories will also be published on Environmental Health News, and EHN’s Editor-in-Chief will be heavily involved in story generation and editing.
While the position focuses on producing content for The Daily Climate and news outlets which re-publish our work, the employee will be expected to be familiar with and occasionally participate in the daily assembly and aggregation of The Daily Climate.
The following skills are not essential, but will enhance the prospects of job candidates:
- Advanced degree(s) in journalism or related fields
- Second-language skills
- Web design and Search Engine Optimization skills
The Daily Climate is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status.
Benefits: Comprehensive health plan; three weeks annual vacation; Provision of essential hardware and software
Apply with resumé and supporting materials to Publisher Peter Dykstra at firstname.lastname@example.org
$500 offered for first-place winners in seven categories.
SEJ’s awards honor the best environmental journalism in seven categories, bringing recognition to the most important stories on the planet. Journalism broadcast or published in print or online is eligible.
SEJ’s 2014 Awards will be presented on Sept. 3, 2014, at SEJ’s 24th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
DEADLINE TO ENTER: APRIL 1
Thanks to generous funding from the Grantham Foundation, and individual members and friends of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), we are pleased to announce grants totaling $12,500 to five journalism projects selected in SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism Fall/Winter 2013 grant cycle. In addition to the grant, SEJ will provide mentoring support to any grantees requesting it.
SEJ launched the Fund for Environmental Journalism in 2010 to support reporting projects and entrepreneurial journalism ventures related to the environment. Since inception, including the current cycle, small grants totaling more than $90,000 have been awarded to both staff and freelance journalists to cover costs of travel, document access, graphics and website development, translation and other budget items, without which journalists might have been unable to produce and distribute specific, timely stories about important environmental issues.
Congratulations to the grantees in the Fall/Winter 2013 cycle:
$1,500 for reporting a piece in Alaska on how climate change is affecting native Alaskans’ food security and diet, which traditionally has relied on hunting and fishing
$2,900 to complete a book set in Nicaragua that examines the environmental-justice and sustainability issues raised by the worldwide migration of the rural poor to cities
Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalism
Editor: Fiona Macleod
$2,200 for development of an online app that would alert residents and NGOs to environmental-impact assessments being done in their regions on activities such as deforestation, fracking, mining, construction of dams and power stations, and creation of new landfills
Marcus Stern and Sebastian Jones
$3,000 for travel associated with reporting an investigative series on pipeline safety
$2,900 for travel in India, and video and web-production costs, to produce a multi-media story on India’s construction of reputedly the world’s largest nuclear power complex, even as other countries back away from nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster
To learn more about the FEJ grant program, including applicant eligibility and submission guidelines, or to see information and links about past grants, please go to the Fund for Environmental Journalism web page. The next deadline for proposals is July 15, 2014.
Please consider making your own donation today, to help SEJ build the Fund for Environmental Journalism and support new work! If you would like to help experienced environmental journalists continue producing rich, rigorously investigated and unbiased content, please make a gift on SEJ’s secure website.
By recognizing the highest-quality environmental reporting about the North American West, the Knight-Risser Prize seeks to inspire journalists in all media to bring sophisticated reporting, solid environmental science and compelling storytelling to the public.
For purposes of the award, the Western North America is defined as:
- The United States west of the Mississippi River
- Canada west of Ontario, including Nunavut
- All of Mexico
For full eligibility information and to enter, visit http://knightrisser.stanford.edu/eligibility_guidelines.html. The deadline is March 15, 2014.
Science and health journalists face the critical challenge of presenting science in a way that is easily understandable as well as accurate. In many cases, their readership is predominantly non-scientific and not used to reading and interpreting research studies.
A science writer’s work, therefore, involves a great deal of “researching the research.” These journalists cannot limit themselves to simply rewriting a press release or rewriting the conclusions of the study itself; they must study the facts, data and findings first-hand to write an objective report that puts in the finding in context, while telling the story in a way that speaks to a broad, lay audience.
Access to the published research is therefore critical to their work.
To help them, Elsevier offers credentialed science journalists free access to all Elsevier content published online on ScienceDirect, Elsevier’s full-text database of journals and books.
Although the service has been around for many years, we know, from speaking and working with science journalists, that many are unaware of the opportunity. Others do know about it and have a media code but are less familiar with ScienceDirect and are not getting the most out of access.
To help journalists get optimal use out of ScienceDirect, we have created three video tutorials. The videos not only include the basic “getting started” steps, but also tips on how to customize settings in the database to alert users of research papers in a particular field or those that have only just appeared online.
Earth Day Network announces the second annual Sustainability Journalism Award. Open to high school students ages 13 to 18, the competition seeks to bring hard facts on environmental and sustainability issues to entire school communities – in the students’ own words. This year they have opened the competition to include broadcasting and photography entries.
Students can submit pieces on the three thematic areas:
- The importance of healthy, sustainable food served in school
- What your school community is doing to combat climate change
- How your school is promoting environmental education
Submitted entries must be published in a school newspaper or broadcast on a school media channel and must cover one of the three thematic areas.
To enter, visit www.earthday.org/journalismaward and submit your publication online. The contest is open until February 28, 2014 and the winders will be announced on Earth Day – April 22, 2014!
Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting is accepting applications for its 16th Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists: Climate Change in Coastal Ecosystems. The workshop runs from June 1 through June 6, 2014 at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, one of the nation’s premier oceanographic research institutions.
- Study the causes and consequences of ocean acidification through hands-on research;
- Conduct a fisheries survey aboard the URI research vessel Cap’n Bert to identify the long-term impacts of climate change on commercially important fisheries;
- Discuss projections for sea level rise and the latest policy approaches for coastal adaptation to climate change;
- Attend lectures featuring top national researchers, policy makers and science communicators;
- Enjoy off-deadline interactions with scientists and cultivate contacts for future reporting;
- Gain skills and confidence to translate scientific publications for public audiences.