I simply frowned and shook my head as I read about the devastating steel plant spill in Lake Michigan. Yet another environmental crisis caused by humans. While we see, recognize and read about the toll habitats endure because of man made industry, we never truly grasp their overall environmental impact. This is because of a mindset long instilled within members of society.
Thus arises the question of blame. Do we put the responsibility on the interviewees that place focus on the monetary downfall when asked about the situation? What about the clickbait headlines, including the status of the climate as more of an afterthought?
Although these framings are all equally justifiable, it’s necessary that our attention is honed on the vast expanse of the media industry. We notice national, local and international breaking news reports, but we only perceive what they have determined to be important as noteworthy. Even though this system is efficient and doesn’t bombard us with extraneous stories, it requires improvements.
Issues related to climate crises urgently await media organizations to distribute coverage of those stories to the public. Journalists have a social duty to find and write about every perspective. For instance, the steel spill into Lake Michigan was reported to have closed the Indiana Dunes National Park. While this is alluding to a loss of revenue for numerous parties involved, the environmental impact has yet to be explained in the same level of detail.
Should we not proceed with questions and demands for answers? Although journalists release an initial story for the sake of timing, there is still a social obligation to report the truth and then continue with persistence. As a journalist, I know we aren’t doing our job when it comes to reporting the condition of the environment. This type of reporting has cultivated a harmful trait of complacency, for journalists and the public alike, when discussing climate issues.
For the steel spill, we were provided the information that the malfunctioning plant had to pay for the damage, but we have to require more, as there is a need for the more probing questions, such as how and why the spill happened, or what will become of the lake afterwards. Here is where the complete reversal of social norms is crucial.
It’s not always just a lack thereof for reporting, but it’s how we as journalists tell the story. We are slowly turning climate disasters into more and more of a social norm. It’s our responsibility to detail each crisis and express that impact. Yes, financially, but also the actual damage being done to the environment. Collegiate journalists must cater to the same expectations. It’s a necessity that we deliver objective pieces, while still exploring and writing about every perspective.
While journalists have this social obligation, the public still needs to be diligent in reading about their own impact on the environment and taking action. Additionally, apathy regarding climate crises must end. A different mindset, both on behalf of the journalist and the public, is essential for establishing substantial concerns that we all need to have. The state of our climate as being in dire condition has become socially acceptable. If we sit idly by, the destructive cycle of ignorance and hubris will take its toll.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.