The SEJ WatchDog


 

 


 

Searchable archives of the biweekly WatchDog TipSheet's story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the U.S. and Canada are posted here on the day of publication. Journalists are eligible for a free email subscription; send name and full contact information to the SEJ office. WatchDog TipSheet is also available via RSS feed.


Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

May 28, 2014

  • If you are a serious journalist and have not yet discovered the "Journalist's Toolbox," you are in for a treat. The website offers useful sources for a wide range of topics of interest, especially to investigative reporters. Topics include protecting sources, privacy, data visualization, digital verification, transcription tools, rights-free photos, mobile journalism, public records, copy-editing, and more.

  • Reporter Emily Atkin of the Climate Progress blog told recently of flying into Fort McMurray, Alberta to see the tar sands and being hassled for some 45 minutes by "security" officials because she was a journalist — including being told "We might have to send you back to the States."

  • The agency is exploring some of its legal options for improving transparency about fracking fluid. One sign that EPA might be thinking of using its existing Clean Water Act legal authority came when the publication DeSmogBlog published on May 28 a leaked EPA draft suggesting it was considering doing precisely that.

  • As 100-car trains of explosive crude oil snake through U.S. cities and river gorges, the railroad industry continues to tell the public they are being kept secret from terrorists. But now a series of articles by Rob Davis for the The (Portland) Oregonian seems to have caught the railroads and the feds in their own contradictions.

May 14, 2014

  • It may be good PR. Baker Hughes has not only been a leader in oilfield technology, but has also been a leader in the inexact science of producing benign media coverage. The company says it will disclose the identities of all the chemicals it uses, but not the exact amounts or proportions. This move might also be a shrewd way of getting a jump on the inevitable, ahead of possible EPA mandatory disclosure requirements.

  • 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.

  • Some of the eye-rolling was chronicled in a May 1, 2014, post in the blog Mediaite. It quoted New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson calling the Obama administration "the most secretive White House I have ever dealt with." The story came out just a couple of days before the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

  • 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.

  • You might have noticed that Republicans, real estate developers, farmers, and others have gotten steamed lately about U.S. EPA's effort to define its jurisdiction over U.S. waters. Whatever your views on this controversy, it will mean a lot of good local stories. Now there's an improved data tool for gathering information about those waters that may not be big enough to row a boat on, but still are critical to the environment.

April 30, 2014

  • When the fertilizer depot in West, Texas, blew up, some schools were damaged beyond repair. Fortunately, none of the kids died. But it raised an issue that has been obvious — and too often ignored by news media — for years. A new tool from the Center for Effective Government will help environmental journalists learn which schools in their area are near facilities that handle toxic, hazardous, explosive, or combustible materials.

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