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. 

 

November 18, 2020

  • Large migratory species have been traveling across the North American continent for thousands of years. But the land has been dramatically affected, altering how these big game move about. A new data mapping site for scientists can now help environmental journalists track Western wildlife herds and their health as well. The latest from Reporter’s Toolbox.

November 4, 2020

  • Respiratory risks are high on the public health agenda these days amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So when Reporter’s Toolbox noticed some exemplary reporting on how West Coast wildfires were polluting the air, it took a look under the hood to see how other environmental journalists might use the same data sets for localized stories.

October 21, 2020

  • Amid the frenzy of Election 2020 comes a quieter development: The emergence of Big Climate money. Green groups and climate-focused fundraisers are now starting to take their place as major players alongside Big Oil as campaign contributors. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox suggests databases and other resources to help track climate (and other election) money.

October 7, 2020

  • Keeping tabs on the increasingly frequent closing of U.S. coal-fired electric power plants is an important way to follow developments on the larger climate change beat. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox points to several mapping databases that help make the job far easier — whether watching the industry in the United States or abroad.

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.

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