Covering the Environment: How Journalists Work the Green Beat (Paperback) book cover

Covering the Environment

How Journalists Work the Green Beat

By Robert L. Wyss

© 2008 – Routledge

314 pages

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Paperback: 9780805857696
pub: 2007-12-17
Hardback: 9780805857689
pub: 2007-12-17
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pub: 2010-09-28
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Covering the Environment serves as a primer for future and current journalists reporting on environmental issues across all types of media. This practical resource explains the primary issues in writing on the environment, identifies who to go to and where to find sources, and offers examples on writing and reporting the beat. It also provides background to help environmental journalists identify their audiences and anticipate reactions to environmental news.

This primer emphasizes the role of environmental journalists not as environmental advocates but as reporters attempting to accurately and fairly report the news. Contents include:

  • An overview and history of the environment and journalism, spotlighting the most significant issues in the beat
  • Guidance on understanding environmental and health science, ranging from issues of risk, to scientific research and studies, to interviewing scientists
  • Insights into government and regulatory communities and environmental advocates on all sides of the political spectrum
  • Assistance in accessing public records and conducting computer-assisted reporting
  • Guidance in writing the story for print, broadcast and Internet audiences
  • An examination of the future of journalism and coverage of the environment.

Observations and story excerpts from experienced journalists provide a "real world" component, illuminating the practice of environmental journalism. Additional features in each chapter include study questions, story assignments and resources for additional information. The book also provides a glossary of environmental, science, regulator and journalism terms, as well as a reference section and index.

This resource has been developed to train advanced undergraduate and graduate journalism students to cover the science and environment community, writing print and broadcast stories to a general audience. It also serves as a guide for working journalists who cover the environment in their work.


"In this first textbook on environmental journalism, Bob Wyss does a wonderful job of providing a history of the field, an examination of the coverage of risk and science and useful tips on the major players. He brings in so many of the field’s top writers, the book has the feel of a seminar at a conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Covering the Environment: How Journalists Work the Green Beat is clear and accessible for students, yet deep enough to give a good grounding to professionals seeking to move to the environment beat. Bob's case studies are memorable and instructive because they are such well crafted narratives. Anyone who cares about the environment will enjoy reading this book."

Peter B. Lord, Providence Journal

"This is the essential backgrounder for news writing about THE story of the century. Covering the Environment is as valuable in the newsroom as it is in the classroom. It is an extraordinary contribution from an insightful writer."

Bill Kovarik, Ph.D., Professor of Communication, Radford University

"Covering the Environment fills a critical gap in journalism education and training. Bob Wyss has produced a clear and comprehensive overview of environmental reporting, with ample real-world examples to illustrate the techniques needed to report and write complex but compelling stories. This text ought provides an essential primer for newcomers to the field and veterans alike."

Tim Wheeler, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Part 1 – Introducing the Beat

Chapter 1 – Covering the Environment

Chapter 2 – History of Environmental Communications

Part 2 – Reporting the Beat

Chapter 3 – Understanding Risk

Chapter 4 – Understanding Science

Chapter 5 – Interviewing Scientists

Chapter 6 – The Regulators

Chapter 7 – The Advocates

Chapter 8 – Reporting Tools

Part 3 – Writing the Beat

Chapter 9 – Short News Stories

Chapter 10 - Longer News Stories

Chapter 11 – Side Beats

Chapter 12 - Opinion

Chapter 13 – Online Journalism

Chapter 14 – Broadcast Journalism

Part 4 – Understanding the Beat

Chapter 15 – Fairness and Advocacy

Chapter 16 – The Future of Environmental Journalism





About the Author

Author Bob Wyss has worked as a journalist for over 35 years, and has covered environmental and energy issues for a variety of publications, including the Providence Journal, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and E Magazine. He has taught environmental journalism at Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies