In journalism, just as in show business, timing is everything.
On June 1, Earth Island Journal’s Summer edition hit newsstands with a cover story that was a blockbuster: An investigation about how government law enforcement agencies had worked in secret with fossil fuel companies to spy on environmental activists. Longtime Journal contributor Adam Federman wrote: “The mere possibility of surveillance could handicap environmental groups’ ability to achieve their political goals.”
Just five days later, The Guardian published its scoop about the NSA’s vast program to intercept telephone and Internet conversations. Suddenly a young security contractor named Edward Snowden was a household name.
A lot of people have asked me how Earth Island Journal had such amazing timing. I tell them it’s just coincidence. But it’s also prescience.
We here at Earth Island Journal are constantly scanning the horizon to find the stories that have slipped beneath the mainstream media’s gaze – the stories you need to know to be an effective advocate for environmental sustainability. I know that as a committed environmentalist you appreciate our unique style of advocacy journalism.
Our recent cover story was just one of several reporting coups Earth Island Journal has had in recent years.
We were one of the first publications (back in the Spring of 2010) to do an in-depth investigation into the risks of natural gas fracking, a story we have since followed closely both online and in print. In our Spring 2011 issue we investigated the environmental impacts of the Canadian tar sands – anticipating how the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline would become a signature issue for the environmental movement.
Earth Island Journal has also led the journalistic pack in covering the irrationally motivated removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Last year we broke a major story about how a US Forest Service employee had been trapping wolves and then posting on his Facebook page grisly images of wolves in pain.
Last fall, before the 2012 elections, we published a special issue dedicated to investigating how campaign finance corruption and a pay-to-play political system threaten the environment and public health.
And if you saw our Spring 2013 special issue on the idea of the “Anthropocene,” you know that we’re on the cutting edge of examining environmental ideas, serving as a forum for environmentalists to debate contentious issues.
The magazine is also a space for discussion. We bring you interviews with leading environmental activists and thinkers like Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Sandra Steingraber, and Raj Patel. And we’re very pleased to welcome The Story of Stuff’s Annie Leonard as our new columnist.
Even as we stay focused on our 28-year-old print magazine, we’re also publishing continuously at www.earthislandjournal.org.
We post a new story on our site five days a week – a mix of commentary, original reporting, and breaking news analysis. Our ever-growing web traffic proves we’re onto something.
Our website was the first to report on plans to drill for oil on the edge of the Pinnacles National Park in California. We reported about a proposed copper mine in Arizona that would irrevocably alter the ecology of the Sonoran Desert’s unique “sky islands.”
And our online edition helped uncover how marijuana growers in Northern California are poisoning a rare member of the weasel family called the Pacific fisher – a story that appeared in The New York Times just a week later. Another coincidence? You be the judge.
Whether online or in print, this kind of forward-looking journalism takes hard work, a lot of time, and, of course, money. We have to pay writers, hire photographers and illustrators, print a magazine, and keep our web servers up and running. Even as newspapers are shrinking and other magazines are going dark, we keep asking the hard questions of the powers-that-be.
But we can’t do it without you. I know you appreciate our journalism, so I’m asking that you make a donation so we can continue our work.
Your donation is essential for us to be able to realize our ambitions.
We have big plans for the future. We’re already working on a story about lab-grown meat – “burgers from a test tube” – that will explore whether synthetic protein can resolve the ethical and environmental problems of industrial meat production. We’re excited about a story that will examine how to reduce the conflicts between mountain lions and people. And we have a huge exposé planned about …
Well, I can’t tell you and ruin the secret. You’ll just have to keep subscribing.
As I’m sure you know, in recent years a wave of layoffs has hit journalists who cover the environment. Newspapers are closing their science sections, which used to be one of the main venues for environmental news. The number of US newspapers with weekly science-related sections shrank from 95 to 34 between 1989 and 2005. CNN has shut down its entire environmental news unit. The Journalism School at Columbia University has suspended its environmental reporting program.
Amid this journalism austerity, Earth Island Journal is more important than ever. We’re doing the on-the-ground reporting that’s essential for giving citizens and policy makers the information they need to protect the environment.
David Brower famously said, “Politicians are like weathervanes. Our job is to make the wind blow.” In more than 100 issues over 25 years in print, the Journal has carried out David Brower’s vision that a well-informed, mobilized citizenry is key to supporting grassroots efforts, influencing decision makers, and shaping policy – to making the wind blow.
Earth Island Journal