Environment Picture

How to find Great Lakes environmental news? Echo puts it all in one location

Citizens, groups can subscribe to daily digest of top enviro news
Environmental news from the Great Lakes basin is as far flung as the sprawling region itself. But a burgeoning service that provides original environmental journalism and an aggregation of the region’s best media coverage each day is making it easier to keep abreast.

The Great Lakes Echo (www.greatlakesecho.org), launched last spring by Michigan State University, is an environmental news service providing quality coverage at an unbeatable price: Free.

Echo offers up-to-date daily independent stories written by MSU students and graduate assistants and daily links to environmental stories written by others. It attempts to fill the void for environmental reporting created by the decline of traditional media.

It also explores new ways of reporting by encouraging collaboration with readers and defining a news community as a bioregion instead of by political boundaries.

“This project is significant because it combines teaching, research and outreach,” said David Poulson, Echo’s editor and the associate director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

Students write professional quality stories and implement new journalism tools such as interactive maps, polls and quizzes to encourage reader participation and interaction.

Echo features original investigative pieces. Recently, the news service published a four-day series about poorly regulated water pollution from coal-fired power plants in the Great Lakes states (http://greatlakesecho.org/2009/12/14/cleaning-coal/).

The Echo’s daily RSS feed is accessible on the Michigan Environmental Council’s website homepage, www.environmentalcouncil.org. Additionally, MEC works closely with the university’s student environmental journalists as sources for stories, mentors and guest speakers, and as a conduit for internships.

“The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism produces some dynamic journalists and solid stories,” said Hugh McDiarmid, Jr., MEC’s communications director and a former environmental journalist who was a Knight Center Great Lakes Environmental Journalism Fellow. “And the Echo news feed is an essential tool for anyone who wants to keep track of issues affecting our state and the Great Lakes waters that define us.”

Pulitzer Prize–winning MSU journalism professor Eric Freedman recognizes Echo’s importance.

“It disseminates news on issues that increasingly the press corps doesn’t have the time or money to invest in,” said Freedman, who is bureau chief of MSU’s Capital News Service.

Echo’s diverse stories reach a wide audience. Recent topics include climate change, national parks, cyclists, sustainable food practices, and invasive species.

Readership of its website continues to grow, but the service leverages more impact through its distribution by MSU’s Capital News Service. More than a dozen newspapers have used Echo copy. And new online news providers such as Greening of the Great Lakes and Michigan Now take the Echo news feed along with other independent sites and blogs. Stories that are properly credited to Echo can be used at no cost.

This diversity speaks to the site’s prevalence.

“I’m convinced we’re the most comprehensive source of environmental news about the Great Lakes,” Poulson said.

Visit Great Lakes Echo at www.greatlakesecho.org.

Users can subscribe to RSS feeds that segment news by topic or geography at www.greatlakesecho.org/subscribe. For additional information, email Poulson at poulson@msu.edu.
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