For years, some analysts have said that the decline of beat reporting has left many journalists without the savvy to cover some stories, with Earth Day singled out. The Columbia Journalism Review has described it as “broad-brush coverage by nonspecialist [national] reporters, and general assignment reporters elsewhere” who “churned out environmental puff pieces.” General assignment reporters who don’t cover the environment regularly end up being easy prey for officials and businesses who merely wield environmentally friendly buzz words at odds with their conduct the other 364 days of the year. They’ll attract fawning news coverage from reporters who don’t know the players or the context.
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada director Bob Fulkerson made the point this year, pointing out that the city of Reno’s admirable “Green City” program got publicity from reporters who failed to concurrently describe the city “promoting sprawl from Peavine to Winnemucca Ranch. We need to change growth patterns, not just light bulbs.”