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Knight Center students provide real news now

Members of Capital News Service picked up this story through a network of relationships established by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. Image: Barbara Miller

By David Poulson

The journey of a recent story with roots in Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism shows how journalism schools play important news roles.

Nowadays. students, alumni and university-based news networks aren’t only about education. They play a direct role in the rise of public service, nonprofit news reporting.  There are stories — like the one I’m about to tell you — that wouldn’t be reported or have the same impact without these university connections. Continue reading

Going wide is going deep in journalism, academia, science, life

David Poulson

By David Poulson

It’s a strange quirk of the news business that the most demanding job often goes to the least experienced reporter.

General assignment reporting often is what entry-level reporters endure until they land a beat, one allowing them to deeply learn a subject.

Those on general assignment lack the luxury of specialization. You have to be ready for anything. And what you don’t know, you learn.


I well remember my first few weeks on general assignment.  Continue reading

The Society of Environmental Journalists conference helps students make the grade

Knight Center crew at SEJ conference in Pittsburgh, from left: graduate students Gloria Nzeka, Apporva Joshi, Carol Terracina, Research Director Bruno Takahashi, Director Eric Freedman, graduate student Tony Van Witsen, Associate Director David Poulson, graduate student Jack Nissen

By David Poulson

Rubbing shoulders with the world’s top environmental journalists is a great opportunity for students each fall at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conferences, like the one coming up this Oct. 9-13 in Fort Collins, Colo.

It’s educational, inspiring and exciting for them. And the rest of the membership benefits from the buzz and hustle that the students bring. It’s an investment in the future of the organization and in environmental journalism.

Can we get more of them there? Continue reading

Canada is on-the-road classroom for MSU environmental journalism students

Knight Center for Environmental Journalism students interview Eugene Bourgeois and Marti McFadzean, leaders of two Kincardine, Ontario, organizations opposing the Deep Geological Repository, a nuclear waste storage facility proposed at the site of Bruce Power. They met in the cabin Bourgeois built from reclaimed timber. Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

I had tried for weeks to arrange a meeting of my environmental journalism students and First Nations officials during a field reporting trip to Kincardine, Ontario.

I came close. But now things were falling apart. Just before we hit the road last semester, tribal officials phoned to say they decided not to meet with us to talk about a controversial radioactive waste disposal plan on Lake Huron’s Bruce Peninsula. They wanted to assess their community’s reaction to the plan before speaking about it with outsiders.

Our three-day Canadian roadtrip was part of a Knight Center environmental journalism class on transboundary issues. The plan was to directly learn of some of the environmental challenges that the U.S. shares with Canada.  At the same time, the half-dozen students would gather ideas and sources for classroom assignments and for our center’s news service which carries stories relevant to the eight states and two provinces bordering the Great Lakes.

Continue reading