BOOKS: Writing Green: Advocacy & Investigative Reporting About the Environment in the Early 21st Century

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:

Writing Green: Advocacy & Investigative Reporting About the
Environment in the Early 21st Century
by Debra Schwartz, Ph.D. Apprentice House
(, 2006. 179 pages, paperback. $18.95.

In absence of animal issues specialists on the staffs of most
news media, environmental beat reporters produce about half of all
mainstream news coverage pertaining to animals, with the rest
scattered among beats including farm-and-business, general
assignment, local news, lifestyles, and even sports. Conversely,
about half of all environmental beat reporting involves animal
issues, albeit mostly pertaining to wildlife habitat and endangered
Exactly half of Writing Green examines how Ocean Aware-ness
Project founder David Helvarg, Tom Meersman of the St. Paul Pioneer
Press, and Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News produced
award-winning exposes of oceanic oil drilling, the impacts of
invasive species in the Great Lakes, and federal grazing subsidies,
including extermination of predators by USDA Wildlife Services.
Helvarg, Meersman, and Rogers are all longtime ANIMAL
PEOPLE readers and occasional sources, as are several other Writing
Green contributors. Humane concerns were not among the topics of
their award-winning work, but I am aware through direct acquaintance
that most of the Writing Green contributors take humane concerns into
consideration, among many other values and pressures, when they
write about animals. They often do not reach the same conclusions
that animal advocates would. Yet understanding how they evaluate
their material could be quite valuable to animal advocates who are
seriously trying to be more influential to the world beyond the
already persuaded.

Helvarg, for example, as author of The War Against The
Greens (1994), is especially astute about detecting corporate and
governmental spin. Rogers is known for his skepticism of advocacy
group spin. Meersman likes to see hard statistics–and will check
the math.
Writing Green author/editor Debra Schwartz produced Writ-ing
Green as a journalism textbook. Apprentice House published it as a
learning exercise for book publishing students. Teaching animal
advocates how to make their case to mainstream news media was not an
expected purpose of Writing Green, and if explored directly and in
depth could be subject of another book. But until such a book is
written, Writing Green is a good starting point.
–Merritt Clifton
(Another good starting point is the ANIMAL PEOPLE tip sheet
“Media relations for humane societies,” free via e-mail.]

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.