Environmental Echo’s Don Corrigan participated in a panel on journalism at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) annual convention in Sacramento, California, on Sept. 23.
Keynoter for the Conference was California Governor Jerry Brown who reported on what the state is doing to address climate change.
Corrigan went on several SEJ field tours, including one in the foothills of the Sierra, where the California gold rush left environmental damage that is still affecting the state today.
Gold was mined with pans only for a short time, according to tour guides. Companies quickly learned that gold could be extracted much faster and in quantity by tearing down mountainsides and bluffs with high-pressure water cannons. It amounted to the first “outdoor fracking,” according to tour experts.
Corrigan also visited wine country and learned how the extended drought in California is damaging crops and hurting the growing of grapes in classic wine country. The farmers are becoming increasingly concerned over the future of their livelihoods as climate change affects growth cycles. California growers are definitely not skeptics about climate change.
A professor of journalism at Webster University, Corrigan participated on a panel with Prof. Michael Kodas of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder; with Prof. Mark Neuzil of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota; and with Prof. David Poulson of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.
The SEJ panel discussed the “moving target” of environmental journalism and what universities can do to teach students about reporting in this field. Corrigan noted some of the top posts on EnvironmentalEcho.com over the past year, including stories on the Valley Park Levee and flooding on the Meramec River in January as well as stories on Coldwater Creek, the Westlake Landfill, TCE contamination at Meramec caverns and more.
Academic colleagues on the panel expressed some surprise at the number of environmental issues that seem to cry out for coverage in St. Louis and in Missouri. Corrigan told the conference that when it comes to environmental issues, “St. Louis has it all from A to Z.”
Corrigan is the author of “Environmental Journalism.” A book selection, featured by the University of California-Davis, which was a co-sponsor of the SEJ Conference held in Sacramento.