Knight Center director lectures on environmental journalism in Russia


Eric Freedman at St. Petersburg University.

Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently spent a week giving guest lectures in two Russian cities about environmental journalism.
He spoke at the University of Television and Cinema and at Saint Petersburg State University in Saint Petersburg, the former Russian capital under the czars, and at Chelyabinsk State University in Chelyabinsk in the South Urals.
Both host cities face severe environmental challenges. In Saint Petersburg, the Neva River running through the heart of the city has been heavily polluted, primarily by industrial wastes, and it’s ranked the country’s third-most polluted city. Chelyabinsk and its environs have been described as among the world’s most contaminated places, due in large part to radioactive contaminants from a now-closed nuclear material processing facility, but also due to discharges from industrial plants.

Freedman’s topics included:

  • Environmental Journalism: The Challenges Ahead (Вызовы экологи ческой журналистки)
  • “Real People” Make Environmental Stories Real («Реальные люди» – делаем «экологические» истории настоящими)
  • Finding the Environmental Stories Nobody Else Covers (Поиск «экологичного» – эксклюзивные истории)

The U.S. State Department sponsored the lectures through the U.S. consulate generals’ public affairs units in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.
Journalism students in both cities raised many of the same questions about environmental journalism and coverage that our students at MSU raise. For example:

  • Is it possible to simultaneously be both an environmental activist and an environmental journalist?
  • How much do you need to know about science to cover the environment?
  • Shouldn’t science researchers concentrate on sharing their findings in academic publications for other scientists to use rather than with the general public through the press?
  • Does the topic of animal rights fit within environmental journalism?