Reporter's Toolbox

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Toolbox is a biweekly column focused on the world of data journalism, with an emphasis on data tools, techniques and database resources that journalists can use to improve their environmental reporting. 

 

September 23, 2020

  • Although the realities of the pandemic may mean fewer state and local ballot measures in the upcoming election — and the presidential contest is drawing much of the spotlight — they can still be potentially fruitful stories for reporters willing to seek them out. Here are eight top ways to track this year’s environment and energy ballot measures, from the latest Reporter’s Toolbox.

September 9, 2020

  • A key Democratic primary win in Massachusetts last week appears to portend a weather change in climate politics, with youth groups helping propel the issue into November’s polling places. Reporter’s Toolbox helps environmental journalists cover the shift by cataloging some of the biggest youth climate activist groups with local chapters and large geographic reach.

August 12, 2020

  • With little (and big) fires just about everywhere these days, reporters could use help tracking the myriad blazes. Fortunately, firefighting experts have developed some handy databases that journalists can tap into to better cover this story. Plus, other kinds of data tools to keep on top of fire hazards. And SEJ’s new “Issue: Wildfire” resource page, which includes wildfire headlines from EJToday and more wildfire stories from SEJournal.

July 1, 2020

  • Toxics abound in many building materials, creating indoor environmental hazards for workers and residents alike. To help report the story, Reporter’s Toolbox details a massive database of chemicals and building materials, and explains how to use it to assess their presence in buildings in your community. Plus, story ideas to get you started.

June 17, 2020

  • With fishing season underway in the United States and Canada, fish consumption advisories are also on the hook. That means potential stories for environmental journalists. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox points you to state-by-state data sources and walks you through how to best explain them to your audience. Plus, a bonus story tip.

June 3, 2020

  • Hazardous waste and floodwaters don’t typically mix well together. So when a Michigan dam recently burst, and flooded not just the local community, but also threatened a nearby Superfund site, it prompted Reporter’s Toolbox to look at how environmental journalists could track similar threats in their areas, especially as climate change raises the risks of similar disasters.

May 20, 2020

  • With drought can come fire, and with megadrought, routine reporting becomes disaster headlines. Reporter’s Toolbox gets you to the bottom of the drought data sources that help determine what’s ahead for your region, sorting through the complicated set of federal drought monitoring agencies and resources.

May 6, 2020

  • Reporting the COVID-19 pandemic may mean telling environmental stories, while using the best data to do it. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox spotlights three key resources to capture a detailed look at where and who the coronavirus is striking, and how it connects to the environment: a dashboard, an ambitious data platform and an unheralded tool for uncovering environmental injustice. 

April 22, 2020

March 27, 2020

  • If reporting on the coronavirus crisis is off your usual beat, Reporter's Toolbox has help — a compilation of resource guides for reporters covering this historic public health emergency. Check out useful links from journalism associations and other news media bodies, as well as info about open information under COVID-19, international journalism resources and more.

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