Category Archives: Eric Freedman

Eric Freedman is the director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism

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.

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Knight Center director trains Uzbek journalists

Knight Center director Eric Freedman led a recent workshop via Zoom for about 20 Uzbek journalists on how American media cover business and economic news in the U.S., including reporting on economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As contrasting examples, Freedman used a recent Lansing (Michigan) State Journal article titled “Lansing area gym opens despite state order; others struggle to stay afloat” and a recent New York Times article called “Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine.”

Journalists at a workshop on business reporting in Uzbekistan

The workshop, part of a three-day training on business reporting, took place in Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, under the sponsorship of the Voice of America’s Uzbek Service.

Trainers and experts from the United States and Europe engaged the participants in online sessions focused on information-gathering, news analysis, interviewing techniques, ethics and best practices, and digital media/infographics. Insightful discussions ensued on how journalists should pitch stories, brainstorm in their newsrooms and correct their content after it airs and/or is published.

Freedman taught journalism as a Fulbright Scholar in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Navbahor Imamova of Voice America Uzbek Service

VOA anchor Navbahor Imamova, who is based in Washington, moderated the session. She has been a guest speaker to Freedman’s international journalism classes, talking about how foreign correspondents work in the U.S.

Knight Center director writes on presidents and racism

How have American presidents fared in confronting racism?

Poorly, according to Knight Center director Eric Freedman and former Detroit Free Press journalist Stephen Jones, who teaches history at Central Michigan University.

President Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington at the White House in 1901.

In a new column for The Conversation, Freedman and Jones say the anger over racial injustice that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s killing has forced Americans to confront their history, including the role of presidential leadership – and lack of leadership – on racial issues. An honest assessment of American presidential leadership on race reveals a handful of courageous actions, they write, but an abundance of racist behavior, even by those remembered as equal rights supporters.

Rocky Mountain National Park – 2 ways to look at it

By Eric Freedman

Moose ambles across a road in the national park. Image: Kalie Buchman

I recently beat Ivanka Trump to Rocky Mountain National Park by a few days, but our purposes for being there were dramatically different.

For Trump, the 358-square-mile natural treasure was a mere backdrop to laud embattled U.S. Sen. Corey Gardner, the Colorado Republican who successfully sponsored legislation to provide more funding for the cash-strapped national park system and other federal lands. He’s up for reelection against John Hickenlooper, a former Democratic governor.

Congressional passage of the bipartisan money bill provided a time peg for the visit by the president’s daughter and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Trump said in a statement from the White House, “Working with Sen. Gardner on the Great American Outdoors Act, we are securing funding for the next 100 years to preserve our national parks and public lands.”

Mid-summer patches of snow high in Rocky Mountain National Park. Image: Kalie Buchman

The spending bill is intended to reduce a massive backlog of maintenance projects for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. It also will provide permanent and full support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Last year, the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit research organization, reported an $11.9 billion maintenance backlog at national parks. That figure did not include the cost of maintenance backlogs at the other federal agencies that will benefit from the new funding. Continue reading