On the Beat: Challenges to Covering Population

May 20, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Eric Rimmer for this summary of Tim Wheeler’s comments at a seminar for the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“We journalists tend to deal with the immediate crisis,” Tim Wheeler, an environmental reporter with the Baltimore Sun, told an October gathering of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Madison, Wisconsin. Because the effects of population growth largely won’t be felt until the future, the subject is challenging for journalists who, as a whole, “tend not to look down the road too far.”

There are, however, other challenges, ranging from funding to ideology. Falling profits have pushed newspapers into expanding “hyperlocal” coverage at the expense of other stories and editorial boards are reluctant to risk increasingly important readership over a topic that, when brought to its logical conclusion, can enflame sensitivities over immigration and abortion.

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