Working on solutions as well as problems
A positive end to the series on the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to honor its commitments to include civil rights in its work.
Our pieces are often highly critical of politicians, agencies and corporations — usually out of necessity as they expose wrongdoing or influence-pedding or some form of systemic failure. However, it is also possible to make a push in to what the industry calls “solutions journalism” (also the name of a journalism non profit working in this area www.solutionsjournalism.org).
Talia Buford and Kristen Lombardi close the EPA “Environmental Justice, Denied” package with an essay on what the EPA could do to reverse its abject failure in this area, canvassing ideas for an organization seemingly constantly under attack to come out from under the covers. Sadly, the EPA chose not to respond to our repeated invitation to come back to us with a view on the entire series. We did interview the head of the EPA civil rights office by phone but neither she nor the agency was prepared to address the meat of the cases reported by our team.
On the other hand one wonders whether this new pledge in a blog from the EPA this week might somehow be related to the Environment team’s work.
The data on the project, beautifully interpreted by our data journalist Yue Qiu are a graphical indictment of inaction.
It also gets picked up by advocacy and more campaigning groups and it’s an important question as to how effectively we trail our work to those groups and treat them as a distinct audience group we try to reach. A good example of that was a significant Change.org petition raised by others who were moved by a story on child incarceration by Susan Ferriss. The story and the attention around it has led Virginia to plan changes to its school policing policies.
I’d like us to focus more on impact and outreach and we’re lucky to have a communications head and a social media guru.