Marstel-Day Guest Speaker: Mainstream Media Blind Spots Lead to Inadequate Reporting on Long-Term Environmental Impacts, Especially on the Poor

James Fahn, environmental reporter and executive director of the Earth Journalism Network, spoke at Marstel-Day’s Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign event June 17.

James Fahn, environmental reporter and executive director of the Earth Journalism Network, spoke at Marstel-Day’s Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign event June 17.

Oakland, CA (June 19, 2015) – James Fahn, executive director of the Earth Journalism Network, a nonprofit global network of environmental journalists, described the challenges that environmental reporters face, although climate change is a household word.

The mainstream media focuses on breaking news and short-term, ratings-based coverage, but environmental journalism is more complicated, making independent and local media more important than ever, Fahn said during a Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign presentation produced by international environmental consulting firm Marstel-Day, LLC. Watch the video of Fahn’s remarks.

Fahn’s key points included the following:

  • The mainstream media focuses on the middle class and business, not on the poor nor on scientific news.
  • Environmental journalists face “resistance within the newsroom.”
  • In developing countries, environmental journalists encounter the toughest challenges, sometimes cultural ones, even though these areas are most at risk from climate change.
  • Using interactive, visual tools and compelling stories about interesting people, places, and solutions, local reporters in remote areas can report on the long-term, large-scale environmental impacts.
  • Reporting can spur local, grassroots action, which in turn often pressures leaders to act.

Fahn added that the Earth Journalism Network (EJN) supports these reporters and focuses on the “information poor” through “geojournalism,” training, and tools such as sensors that monitor air quality.

“James showed how the media can drive positive action and new policies by using game-changing interactive tools and stories about real people and real communities in areas most at risk,” said Erika Sawyer, western regional manager of Marstel-Day, which hosted Fahn in the firm’s Oakland, CA office. “James said that EJN reporters often risk their own safety to cover epic stories, and use whatever media they can, including texting in places like the Philippines and Indonesia. It gave me a deeper appreciation for environmental journalism.”

Fahn received the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global 500 Award for his work and teaches international environmental reporting at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Fahn has worked extensively in Thailand, where he served as a reporter and editor for The Nation, an English-language daily newspaper based in Bangkok. He cofounded the Thai Society of Environmental Journalists and has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Jakarta Post,,, the Huffington Post, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

EJN supports a global community of more than 5,000 reporters that cover environmental topics. A project of the international nonprofit Internews, EJN has trained local environmental journalists to more effectively cover issues such as climate change, biodiversity, water, environmental health, and oceans and coastal resources. EJN supports environmental journalists in developing countries through workshops, training materials, support for production and distribution, and small grants, according to the EJN website.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin created the Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign (WCAC) speaker series to highlight major wildlife conservation issues and to present ways that individuals and organizations can help.

The video of Fahn’s presentation and those of previous Marstel-Day WCAC events are posted on Speakers in the series have included senior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official Brian Arroyo identifying ways that the illegal wildlife trade threatens endangered species; Dr. Mamie Parker celebrating efforts to reconnect children to nature; Discover Nature Apps cofounder Evan Hirsche on smartphone technology as a way for Americans to appreciate and interact with public lands; all-star drummer Rich Redmond’s high-energy performing and philosophy for success coupled with his environmental ethic on ways individuals can serve the planet; and 5 Gyres Institute cofounder Marcus Eriksen on the dangers caused by the volume of plastic in the oceans.