Monday, December 21, 2009

New Environmentalists: Columnists and TV Commentators

Back in the old days (early 1980s), environmentalists HAD to get quoted in the major newspapers and get on television. There were no computers. Well, the double floppy that used the 5 1/4 magnetic inserts wouldn't even be considered to be computers today. There was no internet. No web sites. No blogs. No Twitter. No Facebook. No cell phones. In fact, people carried pagers on their belts back then. Young people today do not even know what a pager is anymore. The fax machine and pager were state-of-the-art. So in order to get credentials to display to Congress, funders and the general public, one had to get quoted in The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Fastforward 30 years and now we have 24-hour cable news shows. Four major 24-hour cable news channels. Yet rarely do you see an environmentalist from a nonprofit environmental group on one of those shows. That is because their own commentators provide the commentary on the issue of the day. Or they have newspaper columnists as the new experts. So now the news media provides the environmental news via its own spokespeople. Very interesting. Particularly for those of us out here doing the real work. Maybe its just sour grapes or plain jealousy, but one would think the media would want outside voices commenting on issues they work on all the time. Even then, D-list groups like ours never get a break. Makes us wish for the old days. Maybe we'll fax out some more press releases and wait for the pager to go off.

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