Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Media, Nature...and Ultrarunning

Just got the Oct/Nov issue of National Wildlife, the magazine of the National Wildlife Federation.  I love this simple magazine--it's full of photos, great articles, plus hard-hitting editorial positions.

The latest is another Lawrence Schweiger essay (he's president and CEO of the NWF) that is spot-on.  He takes on the national media in What's Not Making the News.

The key point here for us is how the national media somehow has lost its tradition of diligent journalism.  Let's see Schweiger's words [I added the bolding]:

Given the intense competition, broadcast news content skews toward then interests of big advertisers, reflecting a diminished sensitivity to environmental issues that threaten wildlife, such as pollution, climate change and habitat destruction. We hear a lot on the news about massive drought, record-breaking floods and other extreme weather around the world, but we hear little about the causes of those extremes because special-interest advertisements dominate the airwaves and stifle the newsrooms.  How can we learn about the threats to nature when the media often is allergic to the subject?

That's one of my pet peeves about the network news, which I still am in the habit of watching.  So often I see an environmental story about something happening, but I wait in vain for the other shoe to drop...i.e., the WHY? of the story.  Is there a reason, is there a cause-and-effect explanation?

If there is, we frequently are not told about it, I believe, for the reasons Schweiger cites: the networks just don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

Which is not journalism.

The connection to Ultrarunning should be obvious.  We, more than most, are connected in a very physical and visceral way to the natural world. What happens to the natural environment happens to us.  We need to know the cause-and-effect, the ultimate causation, not just the proximate causation, so that we can take appropriate steps if we are so inclined.

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