Category Archives: Classes


Although the lab course numbers remain the same, topics change semester to semester. Check MSU’s schedule of courses for the latest information. The three-credit courses can be taken more than once.
Completion requirements for the graduate 800 level courses are greater than those of the undergraduate 400 level courses.
 
JRN 472/872 Lab Environmental Reporting
This course gives students hands on experience producing environmental news stories. Class-produced stories meeting professional standards are published on the center’s award-winning Great Lakes Echo non-profit news service. Students have analyzed the ecological footprint of Spartan Stadium and the pollution inputs into the Red Cedar River. They have waded in rivers to examine macroinvertebrates, analyzed and mapped data and explored creative reader engagement techniques such as this one modeled after Jaywalking on the Tonight Show or this one that gives clues to polluted sites. Others include the Great Lakes Smackdown and the popular carp bombs. The course offers a great way to pick up clips and experience. Story types vary by student interest and skill but can encompass text, audio, photography, video and creative reader engagement strategies. Topics vary semester to semester and students can take the course more than once and for variable credit.
In the fall of 2013 the course is called News eye in the clear sky. Students will shoot video from an aerial drone while exploring the exciting opportunities and thorny ethical and legal challenges of new ways of perceiving the environment with satellite imagery, drones and other remote sensing techniques. And they will look at some of the newsworthy aspects of the other civilian applications of such technology.
 
JRN 473/873 Seminar in environmental journalism
The course focuses on news media reporting of environmental, scientific and health issues. The seminar is mostly guided by the following question: How can journalists deal with scientific uncertainty and the inherent complexities of environmental and health issues? The discussions cover topics such as: journalists’ role conceptions, journalistic norms, environmental discourses in popular culture, use of expert sources, reporters’ beliefs and perceptions, organizational constraints, and the gap between journalistic and scientific cultures, among others. We discuss historical and current issues where science has played a central role in their media reporting. These issues include, among others: energy, smoking, climate change, ozone layer hole, GMOs, hydraulic fracturing, population growth, and natural disasters.
 
Elsewhere within the School of Journalism
Students are encouraged to explore environmental reporting in the context of other journalism classes such as feature writing, multi-media production, broadcast, Capital News Service and public affairs classes. Instructors of such classes often collaborate with the Knight Center.
 
Elsewhere at MSU
Both graduate and undergraduate students interested in environmental reporting are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of environmental science and policy by exploring related coursework at MSU. This is required of undergraduates seeking an environmental concentration and of masters students pursuing the environmental option.
Among the Knight Center affiliated programs at MSU are the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment for undergraduates and the university’s Environmental Science and Policy Program for graduate students.
  

 

International reporting tips from the Society of Environmental Journalists conference

Editor’s note: This is the 3rdt in a series of posts by environmental reporting students on things they learned at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference.

By Audrey Porter

At the international reporting meet-up at the recent virtual Society of Environmental Journalists conference, the speakers gave introductions about themselves, including job titles and locations where they work.

Audrey Porter

But, surprisingly, they wanted to hear a lot about me as I wanted to learn more about them. I spoke and got a little advice about international reporting.

One was speaking world languages when traveling. A speaker mentioned that there are  a lot of ethics questions that you have to consider when you’re going between languages, when you’re jumping around places.

I responded by mentioning I took an anthropology class that talked about international traveling and how, in many countries, some things we say and do in America are not okay everywhere. So, if you’re doing international news, study the place you’re going and learn their language.

Another speaker added that getting good connections to people who  can help you with translators and other things  is the best first value in figuring out how to learn the language as a journalist. Continue reading

Switching perspective: Changing from victim to solver

Editor’s note: This is the 2nd in a series of posts by environmental reporting students on things they learned at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference.

By Yue Jiang

Yue Jiang

I was born in Beijing, a city that is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is a bit far from the ocean. I never saw an ocean until I was 11 years old. At that time, I visited the sea as a tourist or more like a spectator.

Neither do I live near the ocean, so why should I care about it? Those questions popped up when I was in geography class in my middle school.

One of our mandatory homework assignments was to recite and repeat the names of the seven oceans in the world. I didn’t know why they required me to do it, but I was glad to get points on my quiz. I used to think that the seven oceans stood for grades in my exam.

However, one thing changed my mind forever. I visited one of my friends whose campus was near the sea, which is famous for angling and birdwatching. My friend and I saw an aquatic diving bird at its last gasp with fishing line wrapped around its wings. We couldn’t save it, even if we cut the fishing line and called the conservation center.

The moment you watch life passing is always a turning point to think about something. I was afraid that the sea could be full of fishing line, which is a nightmare for most marine organisms.

Where does fishing line come from? From humans. Who leaves it in the sea? Humans. In my mind, the human impact on oceans is negative all the time.

With the severity of global warming, high sea levels have become a prevalent issue. I feel like more and more media intend to consider the ocean as victim and the human as inflictor.

In a workshop “Oceans, Coasts and the 2020 Election” at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists online conference, Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, a world-renowned environmental scientist, referred to a dominant narrative that oceans are now higher, warmer and more acidic. With less oxygen, they also are less productive and less predictable, based on the 2019 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Those stories and articles are strong evidence to prove my prejudice. I became radical and polarized. Continue reading

Learning from the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference

Editor’s note: This is the 1st in a series of posts by environmental reporting students on things they learned at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference.

By Anne Hooper

Anne Hooper

If you’re anything like me, hearing the word “conference” stirs up anxiety. The thought of being surrounded by experts as they converse in industry jargon is intimidating—especially when you’re there to get a scoop.

With a few tips and tricks, however, you can take intimidation out of the equation.

Continue reading

Capturing hard times – in only 6 words

By Eric Freedman

The COVID-19 pandemic is all around us, saturating news reports, dominating conversations, shuttering businesses, isolating hundreds of millions, disrupting schools, derailing sports and the arts, befuddling science.

Meanwhile, pummeling us are natural disasters as diverse as wildfires in Australia and the American West, hurricanes and tropical storms in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S., typhoons in Japan and the Koreas, landslides in Nepal and India.

Continue reading