The Environment and the Press;
Teacher, Author Neuzil Offers Insights

Author and teacher Mark Neuzil, of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Mn., shows research and reporting skills and also his teaching and history interests in a new Medill School of Journalism paperback, The Environment and the Press: From Adventure Writing to Advocacy.

Neuzil’s 325-page paperback doesn’t dwell exclusively – or even largely – on climate change journalism, but for those interested in a broad overview of the media and its coverage of important environmental issues, it provides a refreshingly readable and practical overview. From outdoors reporting and coverage of agricultural issues to current advocacy writing and broadcasting, he explores media coverage and its impact on influencing social changes on environmental and natural resources issues.

In a “Predicting the Future” section, for instance, Neuzil writes that “A modern-day journalist, perhaps as much as any reporter, is called on to write stories about what might happen in the future. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the number of words filed on the subject of climate change. Scientists, the journalists’ primary sources on these stories, are in agreement that global warming (an increase in the planet’s mean atmospheric temperatures as a result of human activity) is of major concern.”

He writes elsewhere that “the denigratory label of false prophet has been applied to environmental journalists and their subjects,” and in one section makes effective use of coverage of the New Madrid fault (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky) to illustrate how journalism and science journalism function in practice.

For historical perspective, Neuzil writes that “The precursors of modern environmental journalists were writers of ancient religious texts, outdoor adventurers, scientists and farmers, and dreamers and philosophers. Some of their key environmental questions are still relevant and urgent today.”

“Environmental journalism has continued to ebb and flow, from its beginnings in ancient texts and Izaak Walton through nature writers and science writers to the beat system and online presentations,” Neuzil concludes. “Continuity comes from the journalists who navigate the stream and tell the stories of the interaction of humans and the environment.”

The book is ISBN-13:978-0-8101-2403-5.

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