DEADLINE: The Asian Carp Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources

Event Date: 
August 19, 2011

Announcing a Fellowship Program for Reporters, Editors, and News Producers

September 21-24, 2011

Application Deadline: Friday, August 19, at 6 PM Central Time

Electronic Applications Only

IJNR, the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources, welcomes applications for its Asian Carp Institute, a learning program in Chicago that will examine newsworthy issues related to the voracious invasive species known as silver, black and bighead Asian carp. Brought to North America more than 30 years ago, Asian carp have rapidly spread throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Now they threaten to invade Lake Michigan by penetrating a network of human-built waterways in Chicago and perhaps through other routes.

Content of the fellowship program will be relevant to journalists working in the Midwest and throughout North America. Radio, television, print and online journalists of all ages and experience levels are eligible to apply.

Journalists chosen for the program will explore and examine the historical, scientific, economic, legal and political dimensions of the Asian carp issue: 

  • History of the Asian carp’s introduction into the United States: Why these non-native fish were brought here, how they escaped from fish farms, and why their free-roaming populations have since exploded.
  • Biological characteristics of Asian carp: How they differ from common carp, which have been in North American waters for centuries.
  • Reproductive and dietary requirements of the different species: What those requirements could mean if Asian carp succeed in reproducing in Great Lakes aquatic ecosystems.
  • Analysis of Environmental DNA: How this research methodology has heightened the Asian carp controversy.
  • The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal: A dynamic hub of commerce and transportation, plus the epicenter of the Asian carp policy battleground.
  • The Federal Lawsuit: Pathway to Resolution or Opportunity for Delay?
  • The Electronic Barrier: Ecological Savior or Source of False Hope? 

Traveling in vessels from the electronic barrier all the way to the mouth of the Chicago River, the journalists will gain hands-on exposure to the magnitude of the Asian Carp problem, as well as to the scope of any potential engineering solution. They also will examine the concept of “ecological separation” proposed by the environmental community, discussing  what “separation” might resemble—using the “lift-locks” on the Trent Severn Waterway and similar systems in Europe as examples.

Designed by journalists for journalists, all IJNR programs emphasize the importance of context and perspective in coverage of the environment, natural resources, development and communities. To date, IJNR has conducted 48 learning expeditions in North America, benefiting nearly 700 journalists. IJNR encourages better reporting and storytelling in order to increase public awareness and understanding. Fellowship awards cover all field expenses, including meals, lodging, chartered bus, hired vessels, equipment and excursion fees. If necessary, a modest stipend is available for help with travel expenses to and from Chicago. Newsrooms are asked to cover salaries while participants are "on assignment" during the program. Journalists are not expected to use vacation days or comp time to attend. 

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