Internews and the University of California at Berkeley Form a Unique Partnership for Environmental Journalism

Internews and the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) are launching a major new partnership – the Earth Journalism Scholars Program – that aims to boost the training of journalism students in how to report on global environmental issues.

The result of a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and UCB’s Graduate School of Journalism, the centerpiece of this collaboration will be a graduate level course on international environmental reporting, include overseas reporting trips for students, and, in future years, Fellowships for foreign mid-career journalists to attend UCB for a semester.

"This is a smart and hugely innovative response to one of the most urgent coverage challenges that contemporary journalism faces," said Edward Wasserman, dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. "Environmental peril is immense and complex, and it's oblivious to national borders. That's why EJN's imaginative approach is so perfectly suited to the subject, and why we are so pleased to be hosting this enterprising program."

The course will bring in guest experts, including university professors and working journalists, to speak on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, oceans, forest, agriculture and environmental health and help explain the technical side of these topics. This will be combined with the teaching of journalism skills and techniques, led by EJN Executive Director James Fahn and his co-instructor Mark Schapiro. (Course syllabus)

At the end of the class, students will receive support – both travel funds and overseas contacts from among the 4,500 members of the Earth Journalism Network – to produce their own international stories.

“We’re creating a unique program,” says Fahn. “There are a lot of outstanding environmental journalism classes out there, but this is the first we know of which will specifically focus on global environmental issues, and how to report on them in a way that is accurate and appealing to local audiences.”

The Earth Journalism Scholars Program, which will also seek to develop a strong e-learning component, was made possible by a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation, with additional support provided by the Kendeda Fund. It is scheduled to last for at least three years.

The Graduate School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley offers a two-year Master of Journalism (M.J.) degree program that emphasizes advanced reporting and technical skills for print, broadcast, and online media. Students are cross-trained and take a broad variety of courses and gain expertise in the media platforms and reporting topics of their choice. The J-School encourages exploration and versatility and considers journalistic integrity and objective reporting to be the foundation of its curriculum.

The Earth Journalism Network is a program of the international, non-profit media development organization Internews. It works with thousands of journalists and dozens of environmental media organizations around the world, with a particular focus on developing countries, to help them improve the quantity and quality of their environmental coverage. Since 2004, it has trained over 2,600 journalists, who have produced over 4,200 stories through EJN activities alone, helped launch and support national networks of environmental journalists, and created innovative digital tools and platforms to support these activities.

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