Our state’s environment needs more local journalism – here’s how you can help

Monitor publisher
Published: 11/17/2021 1:38:30 PM

Look out your kitchen window. What’s changed since you were a kid? That’s a question one of the many environmental experts we’ve spoken to in recent weeks suggested we ask our readers.

We can imagine what you’re seeing — a later start to winter, a pond that doesn’t freeze quite like it used to, a hill once used for downhill skiing that’s now forgotten. We all have our observations, and when it comes to the environment, it brings this very global issue right into our backyards.

Here at the Monitor, we’ve been thinking long and hard about our role in helping preserve our corner of the world for future generations. That’s why we’ve been speaking to so many people who, like us, are concerned about our environment and what it will look like for those who don’t yet have a say in the matter.

Most everyone we spoke to has said the same thing. They appreciate the journalists we have in New Hampshire who are devoted to environmental reporting. We just need more of them.

More coverage. More understanding. More accountability. More solutions.

This is why the Monitor is launching its Environmental Reporting Lab, a long-term effort to become a statewide hub of environmental journalism. We’ll delve deep into the impacts of climate change, but we’ll also explain to readers the natural world around them and the businesses and innovations leading the change.

This is where we get serious about what we need in order to do this right. As a news organization facing uphill pressure from all directions, it’s critical that our community supports this expanded reporting effort. In short, we need you to help us get this off the ground. We’ve just launched a donation drive to help us hire a new environmental reporter. We appreciate anything you can contribute, whether it’s $5, $50 or more. The donations are tax-deductible and all the money raised will go to helping local journalism.

This donation drive is the first step of our fundraising effort. We’ll also be asking local businesses and philanthropists to contribute as sponsors of the coverage. We feel strongly that this issue will define the health of our state in the years to come, and that many of us have a role to play. (If you’re interested in discussing a sponsorship, see my contact information below.)

To be clear, any corporate sponsors will receive a Terms of Agreement that spells out the Monitor’s editorial independence policy, which states that our reporters and editors determine coverage, without exception.

But first, what exactly is this project?

The Environmental Reporting Lab has grown out of the Monitor’s participation in a highly competitive national program that helps newsrooms raise money to support new reporting efforts. We’re one of 20 news organizations in the Local Media Association program, ranging from digital nonprofits like the Texas Tribune to metro newspapers like the Miami Herald.

We identified environmental reporting as something our readership values and needs. Our coverage will include reporting on the environment, all forms of energy, pollution and waste, politics and policy, and local agriculture. We’ll take a close look at the New Hampshire economy, the current renewable energy landscape, how it compares to neighboring states, and what it needs to do to position itself as a leader in renewable energy. And we’ll bring you submitted perspectives from experts across the state and readers within our communities.

We will focus deeply on accountability journalism and will look to successful approaches implemented elsewhere and ask whether it could work here in New Hampshire. In its second year, the Environmental Reporting Lab will hold an in-person summit where leaders from across the state can meet and exchange ideas that will ultimately fuel our reporting.

Our conversations with readers tell us something else too. We need to make this topic relatable to everyone, not just those who are fiercely dedicated to the environment. We need to tell personal stories, we need to offer solutions and we need to be fair and skeptical in our reporting. And we need to understand that the values of environmental stewardship, access to clean water and air, and economic stability transcend political affiliations. They matter to all of us.

When fully funded, our team of journalists will include David Brooks, who has been reporting on the environment in New Hampshire for the past 35 years. He will be joined by two new reporters. And we’ll be using the Monitor’s staff of editors, reporters and photographers to deepen this effort even further.

As part of our launch, we’ve created an online survey that will allow you to help guide our coverage. We’ve highlighted 10 of the most pressing environmental issues facing New Hampshire. To determine what to delve into first, we’re asking our communities — What issues are most important to you as a New Hampshire resident? What would you like to see more coverage on? You can find the survey at concordmonitor.com.

Our mission is clear: We will use the values of local journalism and apply them to building a healthier, more informed New Hampshire. We are not activists. We are not advocates. We are journalists, guided by truth and forever working to earn your trust.

These stories and this role of public accountability are crucial for the future of our state and our region. The health of our environment impacts the physical health of our most vulnerable residents, the health of our economy, and the spiritual health of those who see this issue as fundamental to the world we leave to future generations. Our world is changing, and our ability to give shape to these often abstract and long-term shifts will help us better understand our state, our world and our options. To do this right, we need your help.

Contact Steve Leone at sleone@cmonitor.com.

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