Orienting Journalists to Sustainability
What’s the best way to tackle a broad topic like sustainability in such a diverse state? The eight multimedia journalists who were selected for the first New Jersey Sustainability Reporting Hub fellowships embarked on three days of orientation to learn as much as possible.
Orientation began at Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media. With trillion-dollar views of the Manhattan skyline off in the distance, we discussed everything from soil microbes to air quality advocacy with an entertaining group of expert speakers, including soil scientist Virginia Lamb, Clean Water Action’s Kim Gaddy, Montclair’s Sustainability Officer Gray Russell, ANJEE President Michael Chodroff, NJHEPS President Dr. Ashwani Vasishth and Montclair State University’s Dr. AmyTuininga, Director of the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies. That afternoon, the group visited Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park for a tour with historian and preservationist Gianfranco Archimede, who spoke about up and coming plans for the area.
The next week, the group held a morning of sustainable South Jersey discussions, right off the boardwalk at Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus. Allison Mulch (NJ Audubon’s EcoSchools), Jocelyn Sawyer (Food and Water Watch) and Donald Hudson (Stockton University VP of Facilities and Operations) answered questions on reporting initiatives, improving school environmental programs, and more. After a tour of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority and wind farm, we headed to Stockton University’s Galloway campus to meet with Dr. Stewart Farrell, head of the Coastal Research Center, and Diane D’Amico, Director of News and Media Relations. Stockton has its own dedicated Sustainability degree program, led by Dr. Patrick Hossay, who gave a riveting tour of the Sustainability Lab. The day wrapped up with a visit from Rhyan Gretch of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, who introduced many of the journalists to this unique biosphere.
On the final morning, the fellows met at the NJTV studio in Newark’s Gateway Center to get some journalism tips from correspondent and anchor Michael Hill, followed by a tour of the studio with NJTV team members Deb Falk, John Servidio, Phil Alongi, and anchor Mary Alice Williams. In the afternoon, the group walked through the beautifully landscaped Military Park and into the renovated Hahne building which houses the Rutgers University-Newark collaborative Express Newark project. There we met with Express Newark Co-directors Victor Davson and Anne Englot, Dr. Liz Sevchenko (Humanities Action Lab), Dr. Kevin Lyons, supply chain archeologist at Rutgers Business School, and Dr. Christopher Watson, Dir. of Planning, City of Newark, and discussed everything from the challenges of improving the city to the best ways to find news sources within various communities.
The sustainability reporting fellows go back to their respective newsrooms across the state, armed with plenty of new contacts and lots of story ideas to bring to the collaborative. Over the next six months their efforts will be aggregated and disseminated in a biweekly newsletter. If you would like to be on the Hub mailing list, please subscribe here.
(Note: Blogpost author Hillary Richard is the Project Manager for the New Jersey Sustainability Reporting Hub.)