Peter Dykstra: SEJ enters middle age with grace

I've made it to most of the Society of Environmental Journalists' 29 annual conferences, but not this one.


SEJ is the Jimmy Carter of non-profits – overlooked in real-time, but looking better and smarter with each passing year. This year's conference wraps up Sunday in Fort Collins, Colo (follow the action on social media via #SEJ2019)

SEJ's first national conference took place in 1991. It's now older than many of its members. At least one or two of its current Board members were fetuses back then. Most of its charter members are in their sixties, seventies, or beyond. Or gone. The membership used to be weighted toward full-time environment writers for daily newspapers. Now, the core is freelance journalists (though I've been trying to push the frequently more accurate term "subsistence journalists").

New blood working the beat

The beat has been re-energized in such legacy media giants as the Washington Post and New York Times. But SEJ's strength also lies in a proliferation of new sites doing dynamic investigative work and vivid storytelling.

Here are but a few:

The Intercept

Bankrolled six years ago by EBay entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, this website has rattled cages across the political landscape. Sharon Lerner is their prolific investigative reporter on the environment.

Southerly Magazine

A collection of long-reads on environmental issues in the American South. The year-old startup is the work of Lyndsey Gilpin, who seeks to fill in the gaps in a region vastly underserved in environmental reporting and storytelling.

The Revelator

Two years ago, the Arizona-based advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity launched a news site, The Revelator. Its well-told stories on species, habitats, and politics rapidly became a must-read.

Heated

A few months ago, Emily Atkin took her unique blend of insight and smart-ass from a very established place, The New Republic, to her new four-times-weekly newsletter, Heated.

Inside Climate News

When a startup site wins a Pulitzer, as Inside Climate News did six years ago, it suddenly no longer looks like a startup. But publisher David Sassoon's masterful adherence to an ambitious business plan can stand as a model for all others. It turns 12 years old this month.

Undark

Another Pulitzer winner, MIT's Deborah Blum, puts out a stream of big-think pieces at Undark. Its tagline: Truth, beauty, science.

And the list goes on...

There are too many other quality sites to mention, but here are four more that shouldn't be ignored: The solution-oriented theme of Ensia; the urban-ish tone of Citylab; the food-oriented scoops of FERN; and the saltwater stories of Hakai.

One recent casualty in the perilous world of nonprofit publishing is Pacific Standard, whose deep dives into environmental stories will be missed. It main funder pulled the plug in August.

Climate news goes mainstream

CNN.com

With climate change finally breaking through as a frontline issue for virtually all news outlets, and a zillion other plagues – ocean plastics, glyphosate, water quality, Trump's regulatory purge – making waves, our beat is poised to rise in prominence for the worst of all reasons: Out home planet is literally a hot mess.

We also press forward with an uncomfortable form of vindication: The planet is indeed warming up, and despite some strong efforts, getting dirtier. Species are indeed disappearing. So are habitats, from Arctic ice to tropical forests. Just like SEJ members and others have been reporting for decades.

The beat continues to face traditional foes: Indifference or timidity on the part of some bosses; the shaky financial footing for all journalism; well-heeled, slick, and often unprincipled interests who like to portray our news as Fake News.

But the beat goes on, and it's more crucial than ever.

And more importantly, with new blood, as the beat goes on

environmental injustice
United Nations

Centering biodiversity and social justice in overhauling the global food system

“The food system is the single largest economic sector causing the transgressing of planetary boundaries.”

STOCKHOLM—With new evidence that human activity has pushed beyond limits needed to preserve ecosystems, the impact of food systems across the globe needs to be reassessed, according to scientists.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Space tourism poses a significant ‘risk to the climate’

Rockets launched by billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson emit black carbon in the stratosphere, where it is 500 times worse for the climate than it is on earth.

Sweden's green revolution in response to climate change

A boom of renewable-powered industries have found a home in northern Sweden, fueling the country’s ambitions of a fossil-free economy.

What does sustainable travel mean?

Most people want to support sustainable tourism, even though the concept remains fuzzy.

Climate anxiety is widespread among youth—can they overcome it?

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up on a different planet with tougher choices than their parents. Accepting that is the first step in avoiding despair.

Fashion brands pause use of sustainability index tool over greenwashing claims

H&M has suspended its use of product labelling tool, The Higg Materials Sustainability Index.

As heat rises, who will protect farmworkers?

This year, Oregon adopted the most stringent heat protections for outdoor workers in the country. The new standard has been praised by advocates, but industry is already pushing back.

From our Newsroom
Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Noted ecologist John Harte offers a fresh take on the dire topic of climate change.

Colorado fracking

Colorado is the first state to ban PFAS in oil and gas extraction

The toxic “forever chemicals” are used in fracking wells across the country.

gun control

Peter Dykstra: Gun and climate change delusions

Millions here suffer from twin hallucinations: Guns don’t cause our mass shootings, and the climate isn’t changing.

Op-ed: An engine for social justice leads the way to change

Engine for social justice leads to change

Virginia Organizing's 27-year history as a role model for The Daily Climate

Using comedy to combat climate change

Using comedy to combat climate change

The Climate Comedy Cohort aims to help comedians infuse climate activism into their creative work.

roe v. wade

Derrick Z. Jackson: Roe v. Wade draft bodes ill for air, wetlands and the EPA

Justice Alito’s longstanding consistency in wanting to restrict EPA authority makes it transparent where he wants the court to go.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.