"I’m a survivor of 15 years of turmoil in the print news business... During all of this time, the Society of Environmental Journalists has been my extended family — and my lifeline."
— Mark Schleifstein, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Environment Reporter
December 23, 2019 — I’m a survivor of 15 years of turmoil in the print news business in New Orleans, from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to downsizing staff a few years later and downsizing distribution soon after that. By 2019, The Times-Picayune owners gave up on south Louisiana, and sold our name and web site to the Baton Rouge-based Advocate. I was lucky enough to be hired by that paper’s fairly new New Orleans edition, accompanied by three grant-funded reporters from our old paper.
During all of this time, the Society of Environmental Journalists has been my extended family — and my lifeline. After Katrina, SEJ members sent my displaced newsroom goodie bags, provided shoulders to lean on and beaucoup ideas for follow-up stories. In ensuing years, I’ve leaned on SEJ’s knowledge to help me and my fellow reporters cover everything from climate change to the petrochemical industry to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
And now I’m relying on SEJ in another way, to act as my professional guardian and go-between, as I join two of my fellow reporters in being paid through SEJ's Fund for Environmental Journalism by a Walton Family Foundation grant. All this makes me view the future of environment reporting as especially bright, in spite of the turmoil that makes SEJ’s role all the more important, acting as a source of direct funding, as a gatekeeper for pass-through funding, and as the go-to place for the educating and mentoring of journalists.
Thus, it should be no surprise that I’ve already made provisions in my will to share a little something with SEJ, in addition to my annual donations. I urge you to join me in supporting this most important institution.
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Environment Reporter
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
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