Summer 2004

The Energy Beat: Complex and Compelling

To a journalist’s ear, the words “energy” and “crisis” belong together, in part because coverage of energy issues has been fueled largely by episodic coverage of difficulties people confront when sources of energy diminish—such as gasoline price hikes and shortages—or they vanish, as in electricity blackouts. To some degree this approach is changing as better-trained journalists pursue stories about energy and keep watchful eyes on a wider range of critical energy issues. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Journalist’s Trade: The Energy Beat
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Moving From a Backwater Story to a Front-Page Beat
From homeland security to economic growth, energy issues weave their way into coverage as renewable energy sparks new controversies.
By Edward Flattau
Energy Stories Shouldn’t Be Just the Big Ones
From reporting in Platts, complexities of energy issues can be woven together.
By Gerald Karey
Energy and Politics: The Stories Never End
‘If I could stomach dealing with BTU’s and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, my job would never be dull.’
By Margaret Kriz
Using Documents to Report on Mountaintop Mining
When coal industry officials and business leaders complain about coverage, ‘the only way to counter such pressures is with good, solid reporting.’
By Ken Ward, Jr.
Unraveling the Great Hydrogen Hoax
‘How well reporters handle this blizzard of claims and counterclaims will surely help shape the public debate on the matter ….’
By Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
Terrorism Fears Thwart Journalists’ Reporting
Is the public being well-served by the government’s protection of information?
By Joseph A. Davis
Government Studies Vanish From Reporters’ View
At the Mobile Register, journalists encounter barriers to reporting on possible hazards and risks of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal.
By Bill Finch
Keeping Reporters and the Public in the Dark
Secret dealmaking creates big challenges for journalists trying to cover the risks and benefits of energy decisions.
By Elizabeth McCarthy
The Language and Culture of the Energy Beat
By Elizabeth McCarthy
Why Did California’s Lights Go Out?
A reporting team looks for answers amid a new and complex electricity market.
By Rick Jurgens
Being a Watchdog of FirstEnergy Corp.
The Plain Dealer led the nation’s reporting after the massive 2003 blackout.
By Debbie Van Tassel
Using Narrative to Tell the Blackout Story
Reporting from inside a power plant helped to tell the dramatic story of decision-making when the lights went out.
By Mark Clayton
Green Buildings Need Sharp-Eyed Architecture Critics
‘Like other journalists, architecture critics need to be inquisitive and skeptical about what they see.’
By Randy Gragg
A Local Newspaper Invests in a Foreign Reporting Trip
To inform readers about wind farms and energy, The Cape Codder sends a reporter to Denmark.
By Doreen Leggett
Words & Reflections: Books
A Scholarly Look at War Reporting (2 comments)
In assessing coverage of war, contributors look for connections to the daily practice of journalism.
By Barbie Zelizer
Securing the Right to Be Heard
A new book explores how a 1960’s case about race in Mississippi transformed television news and the Federal Communications Commission.
By Kay Mills
Weaving Together Stories Waiting to Be Told
By Kay Mills
Digging Beneath Quotes to Tell the Story
A reporter decides to ‘cover what government does instead of what politicians say.’
By David Cay Johnston
Measuring the News Media’s Effectiveness
A new annual report locates plenty of contradictory trends and perceptions.
By Dante Chinni
International Journalism
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Government Pressure and Thailand’s Press
When a leading newspaper editor is fired, troubling signs point to the interference of business and government interests.
By Philip J. Cunningham
The Rising Tide of Internet Opinion in China
Online discussions ‘now actually drive the agenda of official media.’
By Xiao Qiang
China and Internet Filters
When the reporting of major news organizations is blocked, why not do something about it?
By Jonathan Zittrain
Nieman Notes
Newsroom Training at Urban High Schools
By learning hands-on skills, minority students take the first step to becoming journalists.
By Lynda McDonnell
‘Fields of Despair’
Words and images tell stories of forgotten workers.
By Nuri Vallbona
Words & Reflections: War and Terror
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Revealing a Reporter’s Relationship With Secrecy and Sources
Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman explains how he handles classified information in reporting on war and weapons.
Excerpts from lectures by Barton Gellman
Making Decisions About What to Publish
Several examples demonstrate how the press and government officials interact when it comes to secrecy.
By Barton Gellman
Telling Stories the Military Doesn’t Want Told
‘Dear Mr. Olmsted, I regret to inform you that we can’t honor your request to speak with anyone at Fort Carson ....’
By Dan Olmsted
Portraits of the Wounded
A photojournalist conveys the lives and feelings of those injured in the Iraq War.
By Nina Berman
Developing Word Pictures to Inform a Complex Story
‘Eighty percent of foreign reporting is about getting there.’
By Jeffrey Fleishman
The Iraq Experience Poses Critical Questions For Journalists
‘How do we protect against violence while protecting our image as noncombatants? How do we guard against danger without sealing ourselves off?’
Excerpts of a speech by Anthony Shadid
‘Avoiding the Cross Hairs’: Excerpts
By Rod Nordland
The Responsibilities of a Free Press
‘Coverage of the administration’s record on civil liberties since September 11th has, in my judgment, been sadly inadequate.’
Updated version of a speech by Anthony Lewis
The Unseen Is Made Visible
Americans see photographs of military coffins, and repercussions follow.
Photo Essay Introduced By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
The Press and Public Misperceptions About the Iraq War
A study looks at whether the press failed in its reporting about the war.
By Steven Kull
The President, Press and Weapons of Mass Destruction
‘Why has the WMD story been so difficult for the press to investigate and tell?’
By Susan Moeller
A Matter of Faith: The White House and the Press
Journalists’ focus ‘on religion and the presidency was unusual for an “objective” news media that usually relies on empirical evidence ….’
By David Domke
Images of Horror From Fallujah
‘The transparency of angst and indecision about the Fallujah images have been good for journalism.’
By David D. Perlmutter and Lesa Hatley Major
Digital Photography and News Images
By David D. Perlmutter
U.S. Newspapers Decide Which Images of the Fallujah Killings to Publish (1 comment)
Compiled by David Perlmutter and Lesa Hatley Major
The Psychological Hazards of War Journalism (2 comments)
A psychiatrist examines how journalists respond to what they witness and report.
By Anthony Feinstein
Journalism and Trauma: A Long Overdue Conjunction
Covering violence ‘chews at the vitality of those who must cover it day after day.’
By Roger Simpson
Resources for Reporting on Violence
By Roger Simpson
Equipping Journalists With Tools for Emotional Balance
A former reporter uses Eastern concepts to prepare future journalists to cope with the stresses of their jobs.
By William J. Drummond
‘Welcome to Hell’
A photojournalist records his thoughts during the battle for Grozny.
Diary and photo essay by Stanley Greene
Acting as a Witness to a Forgotten War
‘Even if nobody for whom I write this story cares, it is difficult for me to forget Chechnya.’
By Anne Nivat
When a Story Inhabits the Mind
‘… I rely on a brave group of Chechen journalists to keep me— and my readers—informed.’
By Thomas de Waal
The Risks of Independent Reporting in Chechnya
By not adhering to government regulations, ‘these newspapers are vulnerable to attack from all sides.’
By Timur Aliev
Curator's Corner
Dedicating the Knight Center at Lippmann House
The Nieman Foundation works to broaden its reach.
By Bob Giles