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Environmental journalism revisited

The traditional journalistic model has been to follow interesting stories, expose scandals and explore controversies. This approach has been very relevant to the political process, but it is not so applicable to the now-critical relation between humanity and the Earth. Today’s communities must understand the interconnections between energy use, climate and food to make the transition to an efficient, resilient and sustainable society. This process involves people from all sectors – businesses, citizens groups, farmers and foresters, students and teachers, officials in state government, politicians and voters. It requires an informed public with access to a wide range of articles of trustworthy information relating to local and global environmental issues.

This vision was the basis for the Sunday Environment Section featured in two Vermont statewide newspapers from January 2008: the Rutland Herald and the Barre Montpelier Times Argus. The impetus for the section came from discussions between Carol Tashie, a community activist in Rutland, Randal Smathers, the editor of the Rutland Herald, and Alan Betts, a climate scientist, who became one of six columnists. Elizabeth Gibson was the section editor (2008-2014). Articles were selected based on their relevance to major environmental issues in Vermont and were then reviewed and edited for technical accuracy and clarity of expression. In 2014, this environmental page was merged with the rest of the Sunday paper.

This chapter outlines the philosophy and scope of this project, including some of the major environmental themes that emerged and the significance of an informed public for facilitating environmental leadership.

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Full Citation

Betts, A.K. and E. Gibson (2012), Environmental journalism revisited. Ch. 41, pp. 382-390, in Environmental Leadership: a Reference Handbook. Deborah R. Gallagher, Editor, SAGE publications Inc., Sept. 2012, ISBN: 9781412981507.