Environmental journalism is the practice of reporting on current and pressing environmental topics, such as news and research about animals and wildlife, conservation, and environmental issues like pollution, climate change, genetic manipulation, factory farming or canned trophy hunting. There are many reasons for a writer to become an environmental journalist. Here are the ones that Africa Media thinks are the most important.
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Writing an environmental article takes a lot of research (an enormous amount, actually). This field is more serious than other travel or nature writing genres. You need double-check every fact and verify every source of information. In this process of in-depth research, writers often learn more about a subject than they knew before starting the story. If you become an environmental journalist, this is an ideal way to educate yourself and eventually become an expert reporter on all things environmental. This means you can, in turn, educate others about such things as the importance of conservation.
Global awareness of environmental issues is growing
More organisations are working to benefit the environment. In addition, more people are becoming aware of what the repercussions of single-use plastic products are. More information is being circulated on ways to contribute to conservation and sustainability. For once, the human race seems to have taken an interest in an environmentally beneficial social trend, and more people are aiming to become an environmental journalist. Specialising in environmental writing is one of the ways to contribute to this worldwide conversation. It also helps you to keep yourself informed of the different viewpoints on environmental matters.
Researching and writing an environmental article is an exciting process
Because the subject matter is more serious and factual, environmental writers need to put some serious interviewing and investigative skills into their reporting. It might be a topic that nobody else has written about yet, or your article could be the one to expose an institution of environmentally unethical practices. If you become an environmental journalist, you have the power to make something new known about a specific environmental issue. This is an inspiring thought to journalists who have a passion for intense research and investigative reporting.
Opportunity for freelance publication
Like for all journalists, choosing a genre or topic that you’re passionate about – and then getting paid for writing about it – is the dream. Most publications (especially travel magazines and websites) are now either publishing more content on the subject of conservation, or have a section for environmental news. This means that freelancers can submit their environmental articles to a variety of publications. In other words, they keep building their portfolio of published work. If you’re considering a career in environmental work or conservation, having published articles on environmental topics is a good addition to your work background.
Making a difference
Environmental writers use their unique voice and writing skills for a cause they believe in. In this way, they contribute to the worldwide discussion about the environment and ways to protect it. They research both viewpoints of an environmental issue and report on it in an ethical, yet realistic, way. While they introduce both spectrums of the argument, they don’t downplay the impact of the issue in their writing. The writer provides facts and figures to support the direness of the situation that he/she has chosen to research. Whether they’re writing about micro-plastic pollution in the ocean, new scientific findings on climate change, the effect of human activity on certain wildlife species or other topics, environmental journalists share information in an understandable way that has a lasting impact on readers.
Becoming an environmental journalist is hard work, but it also has the potential to make a change in the world. In this world, caring for the environment has never been more crucial. If you want to make a difference through advocating wildlife conservation, then perhaps environmental journalism is the right fit for you.
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Blogger Profile - Rouxne van der Westhuizen
Rouxne has an Honours degree in journalism and media studies. She is the course director for the Travel and Environmental Journalism and specialises in wildlife conservation writing, travel journalism and blogging.