As an environmental journalist, you’ll need to have numerous accredited sources for your stories. This is an area of journalism based heavily in research and statistics. Therefore, you cannot risk having unverified information in your stories. You will need to utilize studies published in scientific journals. These should be very thoroughly researched pieces which diligently explain the processes used by the scientists in question to reach their conclusion.
Remember: As an environmental journalist, you need to avoid using definitive language in your articles. If a study has been written that finds a mass population reduction of a certain type of insect coincides with an increase in rainfall in a region heavily populated by that insect, you shouldn’t write a story with the headline “Rainfall Driving Insects to Extinction.” Causality can be difficult to prove in environmental science, even if there are strong correlations. With a developing story, you run the risk of sensationalizing it through phrasing like that.
Relevant information for environmental journalists is received through studies that are up-to-date and impactful on the world at large. You should read as many environmental science studies as possible, but use your discretion to determine which ones actually have durability and potential to interest an audience. If you come across two studies, one about land development forcing wild animals to migrate into suburban neighborhoods and one about a certain breed of flower’s pigment changing slightly, you’ll most likely want to turn the former into a story. If the impact on humans is more readily apparent, it makes for a more involving story.
Any journalist knows that proper interview skills are one of the biggest requirements of a journalist, if not the biggest. Your job as a journalist is not to know everything. However, you do need to know how to speak with others who are experts and not waste their time. Before interviewing a professional source for an environmental piece, you need to make sure you have done all the necessary research. If you are speaking with the author of a study, you need to have read the study and taken appropriate notes. If you spend the majority of the interview just asking questions that were answered in the study, it will a waste of both your times.
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