Environmental Journalism is Falling Short

One of the many perks of being at Cornell is all of the free subscriptions I have access to. I recently learned that WSJ is on the list of things I was unaware my heavy tuition covered, and ever since, I have been dousing myself in financial and economic news I would otherwise ignore.

I have been a news junkie since high school however, learning how to pick and choose what I like to read. The Wall Street Journal, for accessibility and stylistic reasons, has never been my favorite. After years of fine-tuning my news taste, discovering that I want to go into journalism, and developing almost an environmental arsenal of knowledge, I now am (sort of… still getting there) able to differentiate what constitutes beneficial and detrimental news coverage.

Adven Environmental Journalism Newspaper

Additionally, having WSJ at my fingertips has allowed me to talk about the news more with my parents, who are much more financially inclined than I am and actively read the journal. Having constant access to people who want to talk and develop ideas about news has allowed me to discern the positives and negatives of WSJ, and news in general, as well.

Today, while tuning out of my english class, I came across probably the only environment-themed article in WSJ. The article was in relation to how climate change is impacting the Miami housing market. Written by the same author just two minutes later was an article about how the Miami housing market was being gentrified because of climate change induced movement.

Both of these articles call upon two important environmental topics: polar ice cap melting and environmental injustice. However, because the Wall Street Journal caters to predominantly conservative businessmen who can’t be bothered with caring about the environment, clear environmental issues are burrowed under “housing market” labels.

gentrification-thats-changing

I am not trying to call out WSJ here, but rather reflect on how this idea of readership and political partisanship in popular news media specifically is exacerbating environmental degradation. Clearly WSJ acknowledges climate change, and environmentalism as a critical element of modernity. If the journal didn’t, they would not publish it on the front page! However, because climate change and environmentalism are not accepted in conservative dialogue, the issues need to be masked.

But at what cost? Sure, now literal wall street bankers will be more concerned with adjusting coastal housing markets. But, in doing so, they will be ignoring the social ramifications of environmental degradation. Moreover, they will be ignoring the long-term trends that anthropogenic climate change, pollution, resource extraction, and more promise.

I guess what I am trying to say is that these articles in WSJ, and more generally, environmental undertones in popular news media, hinder environmental efforts more than they help them. Environmental change cannot happen underground, and just because some rich old men don’t openly believe in climate change does not mean that proponents of freedom of the press should ignore how humans are changing the physical world and subsequently how the physical world is changing us.

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