FULLY IMMERSED: Ginger Vaughn, left, a Houston-based journalist, takes part in a weeklong Metcalf Institute workshop on marine and environmental reporting. At right is Deborah McDermott, Maine bureau chief for The Portsmouth Herald in New Hampshire.
Rhode Island is building a name for itself in the business of environmental training for journalists, thanks in part to the 15-year-old Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, says spokeswoman Karen Southern.
“The [University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography] has an international reputation and the scientists who are part of the immersion workshop are likely to be quoted in stories around the world,” Southern said. “In a time when Rhode Island is working to improve its image and position itself as an emerging knowledge economy, these journalists give the state a lot of positive exposure.”
Nine more journalists from around the world have added Rhode Island scientists to their digital Rolodexes after spending a week at the institute, located at the graduate school on Narragansett Bay, in a workshop from June 9-15. The group brought the 15-year total to 200 reporters. These journalists give Rhode Island’s environmental experts a connection to TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and online media outlets around the world.
“When you give international journalists such intensive insight on topics they want to report on, and we’re introduced to leading scientists, of course tomorrow they’re going to be my sources,” said Italian journalist Laura Daverio, a foreign correspondent for RSI Swiss television who is based in Beijing.
If the local economic impact on the institute can’t be measured in dollars and cents, it’s the kind of exposure tourism and chamber of commerce leaders often pray for. The stories, for a change, are not likely to mention Rhode Island’s struggling economy, stubbornly high unemployment rate or the skills gap that sends businesses to other states.
Instead, the journalists go in-depth on climate change, water quality, forestry, coastal habitats and marine geology.