There is no stronger sunshine than professional journalism.
September 12, 2018 2:12 PM   Subscribe

The Pulitzer Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Rainforest Journalism Fund, a five-year, $5.5 million initiative focused on raising public awareness of the urgent environmental issues facing the world’s tropical forests.

Over the next few months the Pulitzer Center will be recruiting similar advisory committees, and regional coordinators, for Africa and Asia. 
posted by adamvasco (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Certainly a fine prize but moot without a radical approach to funding day to day reporters on the ground.
posted by sammyo at 3:57 PM on September 12, 2018

I read that as covered. From the article:
As part of the Fund’s strong support for local reporters with regional expertise, the Pulitzer Center will work with journalism advisory committees and coordinators.

Jonathan Watts was instrumental in bolstering reporting from Rio's favelas to reach not only a larger local readership but also internationally.
posted by adamvasco at 4:07 PM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I want to preface this by saying that I truly value the work of environmental journalists. One of the reasons I have put my money towards the Guardian is that, IMO, they have the best environmental journalism of any mainstream publication. Environmental journalists are doing very difficult work that flies under the radar, and they often cover activists who are literally putting their lives on the line.

But I have to take issue with the title of this thread, which is taken from the article:
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” said Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, director of NICFI. “There is no stronger sunshine than professional journalism.”

The sunshine as disinfectant trope is simply not how environmental politics works in much of the world right now. We are no longer in a society like the one when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring and it triggered such mass public interest that the president was forced to respond to it and the author appeared before a Congressional hearing.

There is significant and major environmental journalism right now that has been truly revelatory; old-school investigative journalism. Some of the most prominent has been the LA Times and Inside Climate News (nominated for a Pulitzer) coverage of how ExxonMobil deliberately used tobacco-company style tactics to derail meaningful climate action. While a number of Attorney Generals across the United States are filing lawsuits against Exxon, inspired in part by this journalism, it is not clear yet that the disinfectant is leading to massive tobacco settlement style agreements at this point in time.

So I guess this is my frustration - sunlight that throws visibility on a subject is critically important. I value the work of journalists and gladly pay for their work. But journalism alone does not produce justice.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

I value the work of journalists and gladly pay for their work. But journalism alone does not produce justice.

Knowledge is power, eh?
posted by lalochezia at 8:35 PM on September 12, 2018

Why only rainforests? Without macro change there won't be any rainforests.

That said, strong applause for the support for environmental journalism.
posted by specialk420 at 9:18 PM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

As an academic who studies tropical deforestation, and uses local journalistic accounts to inform that work, I applaud this move. However, it's not false that without support good journalism in tropical forests will not happen. Already journalists who care (most of whom are NOT based in global cities) risk their lives to cover these places; it's hard work, and mostly it just results in death threats, relegation to secondary stories, and episodic attention at best.

Also important is the light that journalists shine on the complexity of environmental change in tropical forests. None of the changes are simple, or devoid of social complication (despite the fact that many try to distill it down to profit maximization). For the most part, on-the-ground journalists are the only people who understand this and bring it to the general reading population.
posted by sablazo at 9:32 PM on September 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

The sunshine as disinfectant trope is simply not how environmental politics works in much of the world right now.

Yes, this isn't a bad thing in isolation.

But the real problem with the press and environmental reporting is that Scott Pruitt's disastrous policies were reported following the standard "objective" approach which prevented reporting that they would do scandalously evil things.

His cone-of-silence shit, which was a rounding error in the budget, was considered the "real" scandal.
posted by mark k at 7:57 AM on September 13, 2018

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