28 August 2013

Environmental Journalism and Environmental Activism

With the above Tweet, motivated by Leo Hickman's announcement that he was moving from The Guardian to WWF, I walked into a bit of a Tweet storm this morning.

My colleague here at Colorado, Tom Yulsman replied via Tweet by asking me to provide names of people who had gone through that revolving door, one way or the other. Via a reply I provided him with 4 names of people who have moved between environmental NGOs and professional media. That such a revolving door exists should not be controversial. It does.  Tom however did not like either the question or my examples.

I think it was Tom's follow up tweet -- completely misrepresenting my question -- that got a rise out of a few people:
Each of the three responded.

Lauren Morello of Nature magazine, formerly of Climate Central, replied with some considerable anger that the question was being asked and that she was given as an example of someone who had moved from an advocacy organization to a news organization:
Andrew Freedman, of Climate Central and the Washington Post replied with a more substantive pair of tweets:
Michael Lemonick of Climate Central replied substantively as well:
The relationship of science and advocacy is a topic of considerable attention these days, well beyond issues of climate science. Journalists would do well to ask themselves similar questions, which are perfectly fair to be asked.

In journalism, as in science, advocacy is not a dirty word. Our role as advocates (and we all are) should be openly discussed.