Ole Miss students explore environmental journalism

Published 9:28 am Friday, May 10, 2024

By Cody Farris

UM journalism student

Combatting climate change is a global issue and college students from Ole Miss and around the world recently converged in Washington, D.C. for the annual Planet Forward Summit.

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Senior Mia McKay is a psychology major with a minor in environmental studies. She attended as a delegate from the University of Mississippi.

“I think one of the most important things about this conference is to learn that, at least for me, that the environmental field is interdisciplinary. It’s not just the sciences; it’s not just policy; it’s business-related; it’s journalism-related; it’s people-related; it’s fundraising; it’s

every single sector of the workforce that you can imagine, and it brings in different skills and different passions,” McKay said.

The summit was hosted at George Washington University April 18-19. School of Journalism & New Media Associate Professor Dr. Kristie Swain and journalism senior Cody Farris also attended, along with McKay and Mateos Lozano, a junior majoring in public policy leadership.

The focus of Planet Forward this year was “Storytelling and Creativity to Save the Planet.” Students from across the globe showcased their work from the past year.

“I think the value that I see here is learning how to story tell, trying to learn how to engage an audience and how to retain an audience,” Lozano said.

Lozano and Farris both contributed to a year-long depth reporting project at Ole Miss, looking at the impact of climate change on Mississippi. Founder and host of Planet Forward Frank Sesno said storytelling will play a vital part in getting people to address environmental issues.

“I think the power of storytelling to help people learn, help people understand and help people act is critical, and whatever fields someone’s occupied in, whether it’s science or engineering or filmmaking, being a storyteller makes them more powerful,” Sesno said.

McKay said that message resonated with her.

“Everybody really has that opportunity to make an impact in the environmental realm and you don’t have to just be the stereotypical marine biologist or EPA policy writer to make a difference, make an impact, and to help move the planet forward.”

The School of Journalism and New Media’s climate change project, “Rising Tides, Rising Temperatures,” will be available online May 15.