Author Archives: Barb Miller

Environmental journalism student finishes Detroit Public TV internship

By Rachel Duckett

Rachel Duckett

This summer, I worked as an intern at Great Lakes Now, an environmental journalism initiative through PBS and Detroit Public Television covering news around the Great Lakes.

I’m a senior at MSU, and until this internship I didn’t know that environmental journalism was an option for me. Now, I feel like I have a better sense of where I want to go with my degree and a bit more experience to help me get there.

It was really rewarding covering environmental news, I got the opportunity to talk to scientists, as well as people in my community for stories that I felt proud of.

I also got to pitch my own story ideas, like this article I wrote about lighthouses.

I got to practice everything I’d learned in my classes so far and I can’t wait to learn more in my environmental journalism courses this year.

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism underwrote Druckett’s internship.

My environmental journalism internship experience has been nothing but eye-opening for me. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Prior to my internship, I wasn’t too interested in the environment and wasn’t sure what stories needed to be told. It only took a little under a week for me to understand the severity of how many stories were craving to be published. I was never extensively searching for a story pitch because there was always something happening.

But then I began to understand that most of the general public was, like myself prior to my internship; uninterested in the environment. Which broke my heart because without a healthy environment, we would cease to exist. While also considering the amount of environmental journalists compared to regular journalists, my mind was blown. I knew I was playing a very important role in society by sharing stories that weren’t being told.

My biggest skill that I’ve learned is that there’s always more than what meets the eye. This can be interpreted a lot of ways, including types of stories being shared, what’s happening in the world or even what someone is saying. It’s our job to dive deeper and provide context to any situation. This is true for all types of journalism.

I’ve had my fair share of stories, but there’s a few favorites that definitely stick out to me. These include

https://www.wkar.org/environment/2021-06-22/msu-dedicates-new-space-on-campus-to-the-research-and-protection-of-pollinators

If there’s ever an opportunity to become an environmental journalist, I highly recommend taking the opportunity and running with it. My experience has been absolutely incredible.

 

Knight Center student presents series on fire

Marie Orttenburger

Knight Center student Marie Orttenburger recently completed her professional project, culminating her graduate studies at the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

Orttenburger successfully defended her project before her committee, composed of Knight Center faculty Eric Freedman, David Poulson and Bruno Takahashi, on Aug. 16.

Her project is a series of three articles on the importance of fire in Michigan ecosystems accompanied by illustrations by artist Spencer High of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The articles cover research about Michigan’s early fire history through its fire-scarred tree stumps, an assessment of the ecological need for fire in Michigan and the barriers to meeting it, and a look at how climate change is calling for a shift in how Michiganders think about wildfire.

Orttenburger said inspiration for the series came from her job as the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s communications manager, as well as years of working as the assistant editor of Great Lakes Echo.

“I was fascinated by the conservancy’s use of prescribed fire and wanted to use this project as an opportunity to dive deep into the subject and how it is applied elsewhere in the state,” she said.

Orttenburger’s goal with the project was to explore long-form journalism and essayistic reporting. Her proposal was inspired in part by The Atlantic’s “Life Up Close” series.

With the successful completion of her project, Orttenburger graduates with a master of arts in journalism focused in environmental reporting. She began her studies in 2015 and gradually completed her degree over the course of six years while working full-time.

“I’m really grateful to have had the support of the Knight Center faculty as I took the long road to finish my degree,” Orttenburger said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Orttenburger’s complete professional project can be read at https://sparksandflamesmi.com.

New endangered species book from Knight Center director

Knight Center director Eric Freedman is the lead editor of Communicating Endangered Species: Extinction, News, and Public Policy, a new multidisciplinary environmental communication book that takes a distinctive approach by connecting how media and culture depict and explain endangered species with how policymakers and natural resource managers can or do respond to these challenges in practical terms.

The coeditors are professors Sara Shipley Hiles of the University of Missouri and David B. Sachsman of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The book is available in hardcover and as an e-book.

It’s dedicated to environmental journalists around the world whose efforts continue to bring the extinction and biodiversity crisis to the attention of the public and policy makers and is published by Routledge as part of its Studies in Environmental Communication and Media series.

MSU undergraduates Logan Bry and Alexandra Swanson assisted with proofreading the manuscript. Former MSU master’s student Alexander Killion, now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, is the lead author of a chapter on the reintroduction of wolves to Isle Royale National Park.

Extinction isn’t new. However, the pace of extinction is accelerating globally. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies more than 26,000 species as threatened. The causes are many, including climate change, overdevelopment, human exploitation, disease, overhunting, habitat destruction, and predators. The willingness and the ability of ordinary people, governments, scientists, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses to slow this deeply disturbing acceleration are uncertain. Meanwhile, researchers around the world are laboring to better understand and communicate the possibility and implications of extinctions and to discover effective tools and public policies to combat the threats to species survival. This book presents a history of news coverage of endangered species around the world, examining how and why journalists and other communicators wrote what they did, how attitudes have changed, and why they have changed. It draws on the latest research by chapter authors who are a mix of social scientists, communication experts, and natural scientists. Each chapter includes a mass media and/or cultural aspect.

This book will be essential reading for students, natural resource managers, government officials, environmental activists, and academics interested in conservation and biodiversity, environmental communication and journalism, and public policy.