Stoking the EJ Conversation: SEJ Looks at Social Media Upgrades and Wants Members’ Input

April 15, 2011

SEJ News

By PETER FAIRLEY

Can we Talk? You betcha! Well, once a year at SEJ’s annual conference. Until that stimulating confab rolls around again, the more apt question is: Can we Post, Link and Tweet to share ideas and thus enhance our collective pursuit of environmental journalism?

A: You betcha betcha betcha! Forgive the exuberance, but the fact is that SEJ is off to a strong start in its use of social media and virtual communication. And with your help we can boost SEJ’s interactivity quotient to a higher orbit by the time we re-materialize again in Miami this October.

To be sure, our 11 email listservs and SEJ.org will remain core conduits for SEJ conversations. SEJ-Talk will continue to bubble daily with breaking news, peer-to-peer support on the issues, and media developments impacting reporting on the environment. Niche members-only lists such as SEJ-Edu, SEJ-Freelance, and SEJ-Canada will host more targeted discussions. New lists will break new ground, such as SEJ-Diversity, launched by the SEJ Diversity Task Force this winter to convene both member and non-member journalists around issues that affect minority communities.

And SEJ will maintain lists such as SEJ-TipSheet and SEJ-Announce to push program updates out to members. Note that we’re trying to minimize posts and maximize buy-in. To get on or off any of SEJ’s listservs, you need but drop a note to the SEJ office.

SEJ is also, however, venturing into social media, with a growing Facebook group and a presence on LinkedIn. In the spirit of Adam Smith I exhort you to exploit them shamelessly and, in so doing, to render them a more potent tool for us all.

Which brings me to the ultimate information commons for environmental journalism: SEJ.org. The site’s 2009 redesign multiplied its value, and it is getting richer. By the time you read this, for example, an opt-in directory should be helping editors find seasoned journalists for freelance assignments.

More initiatives are brewing to make SEJ.org fresher and more interactive, but we need the light work of your many hands to make them a reality. Staff are pressed, consultants are pricey, and — most importantly — you who live and breathe EJ have the Stuff we’re looking for:

  • Why not track events by sharing them on SEJ’s calendar, which is highlighted on the home page?
  • The Board’s Programs Committee is considering a moderated blog on EJ to foster a public conversation on environmental coverage. If this biweekly ‘EJ Forum’ goes forward as proposed, we’ll be looking for guest discussants to build a fire and soak up the resulting limelight.
  • Targeted grant funding is providing for a mobile version of SEJ.org for handheld viewing. Have a few hours for some learning-by-doing?
  • SEJ.org has a few rough edges that didn’t get saved in the redesign. The listserv archives, for example, remain locked away on the old site. A few volunteers with web/Drupal skills could blow open that vault (and more)!

If any of the above intrigues or inspires you, we want to hear about it. Drop a line to SEJ executive director Beth Parke or to me, the SEJ Board’s programs committee chair.

Peter Fairley, an independent author and journalist, is the SEJ Board’s First Vice President.

* From the quarterly newsletter SEJournal, Spring 2011 issue.