Perhaps the biggest value in fellowships is that they can provide a base of knowledge about issues a journalist has not yet investigated. And there’s no telling when that knowledge will come in handy. Read how freelancer Lisa Palmer's experiences with fellowships profoundly shaped her career, and explore resources to help you find a program that will best suit your needs.
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The National Bridge Inventory is a data tool that environmental and energy reporters can use to make their beat relevant to a wider audience. Compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, it can provide leads on stories like the use of federal highway funds, poor bridge maintenance, and even the pollution of water bodies with lead paint.
Local reporters can find information about coal-ash situations in their own areas using a newly improved database compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project which goes well beyond anything previously available because it includes large amounts of painstaking research by EIP. The site is important for its focus on contamination of groundwater that people may drink by the toxic heavy metals in coal combustion wastes.
The U.S. EPA has put online a "Data Finder" tool that simplifies finding and accessing data that may help you report your particular story. Find datasets by searching in many dimensions: media (air, water), health risks, pollutants, and others. It has an easy browse feature, and links to even more datasets than does EPA's mainstream Envirofacts portal.Topics on the Beat:
More than a dozen news media organizations filed a brief May 6, 2014, arguing that the Federal Aviation Administration is violating the First Amendment with its limits on drones. The media groups were intervening in the appeal of a judge's overturning of a $10,000 Federal Aviation Administration fine imposed on Raphael Pirker, a videographer who shot a promotional video of the University of Virginia campus.
Workers exposed occupationally to toxic chemicals and other safety threats are often the first sign of danger to the general population. A new portal combining Labor Department enforcement databases offers environmental journalists a new tool for exploring such stories.
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The federal government certainly won't tell you. But the nonprofit research group FracTracker will give you data and maps on some 1.1 million oil and gas wells in 36 U.S. states. It's a great starting point for stories on the environmental impacts of drilling and fracking in your area.
We all know it. Some agencies and organizations publish data in PDF format to keep journalists and the public from using the raw data. Take heart. Help is on the way with one easy software tool — Tabula.Topics on the Beat:
A new USGS database gives you downloadable information on some 47,000 wind turbines in the United States. This allows environmental journalists to come up with all kinds of local, regional, or national stories about wind energy and its impacts.