How to Become an Environmental Reporter

You’ve taken your pulse, read tons of articles on ecological issues, you’re concerned about food policy with all the genetically modified organisms sneaking into our food chain and what about the Mississippi River flooding over its banks with more floods on the way.

Ecological issues abound in the world today and they aren’t going to disappear any time soon.

Here are a number of strategies that will make becoming an environmental reporter a smooth sail:

1) Offer your writing skills to a non-profit dedicated to improving the environment in an area of your interest. Learn what they know, meet people who work in your interest field, and rack up good deed hours–you can even ask some fellow article writers to tag along! Plus, once you are established these are people to revisit to write for pay. Another plus, with the organization’s name on your resume you get instant recognition and value. (Caution: Time is money in the freelance world and there’s no reward for long haul servitude).

2) Learn scientific basics across disciplines. Environmental science isn’t an isolated field of its own, but an intersection where biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science converge. Big stories bring these fields together. Take an environmental course online or at a university. Take the environmental science course offered by the Annenberg Foundation that won a AAAS award.

3) Hook up with social networks. Join LinkedIn and the various environmental subgroups available. Sign up for an account on Twitter and follow as many green, ecological and environmental peeps as you can handle. Once up to speed post motivating environmental dispatches to get like-minded peeps to follow you. Mondays are known as EcoMonday on Twitter. With each environmental post include the hash tag #EcoMonday at the end of the post.

4) Get focused. Environmental issues are broad ranging and limitless. Discover as you go what aspect of the environmental story attracts your passion. Focus that energy around your interest, as it will ignite the story you write allowing it to come alive to your audience.

5) Understand the scientific method by reading as much as possible in the areas you want to write about. Read the Daily Climate , Environmental Health News, Science magazine, Yale Environment 360 and the Open Notebook

6) Attend seminars and conferences for environmental writers. There’s plenty to choose from including Society of Environmental Journalist (SEJ), The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Conferences are great places to meet editors of green publications. Join these organizations

7) Kick-start your fund of knowledge, stock up on environmental books. Some of the best ones can be found at the Society of Environmental Journalists. Invest in a high-quality environmental science textbook. And, when you need to expand your mind, tune into the Ted Talks and Ted Conversations.

8.) Apply for an environmental fellowship. Check out Environment America, Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative and the Society of Environmental Journalists

9) Take a course in multi-media skills. The articles you write will come to life with video or slideshow.

10) Join an environmental writer’s association. A good one is the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) with 1,500 members who are journalists, academics and students working in every type of news media in the United States, Canada and at least 26 other countries. To join go to the Web site for more information

A belief in yourself, the ability to talk yourself through tough times and a positive attitude go a long way to overcoming any obstacles on your path to becoming an environmental reporter.

Oh, and you might need to put your impatience on ice for awhile because you becoming an environmental reporter might not happen overnight, but it will happen at the exact moment when you are ready.





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