J500 Media and the Environment

A New Plan? by Sarah
February 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream speech” is famous because it put forward an inspiring, positive vision that carried a critique of the current moment within it. Imagine how history would have turned out had King given an “I have a nightmare” speech instead.

When we talk about “hooking the reader” in journalism, the line above has got to the one of the best ones I have read. Talk about getting the reader’s attention. This was not the first line in this essay, but even in the middle of all the “environmental” talk of it, it hooked.

I’m not going to lie, I really liked the The Death of Environmentalism. Although I don’t agree with everything in it, it was incredibly well-written, informative, witty, and spoke the plain English most people like myself crave. Something about it really hit home with me. I’m not agreeing and saying that we should drop all the progress we have made thus far in the climate change issue and start-over, but I also think somewhat of a ‘new plan’ couldn’t hurt.

The authors’ proposal of a new, innovative environmental approach makes more sense to me than the traditional approach that clearly has not worked very well thus far. Instead of continuing on a road that seems to be going slowly downhill, why not ‘back up’ as they suggested, and re-map?

As we discussed in class, climate change has been as issue for years. Yet we have not found an effective way, as a whole, to make a big change. Yes, companies are “going green,” and politicians claim to support the issue, but how long has that taken and what is REALLY being done about it? It’s taking TOO long to make people listen, in my opinion. I don’t believe that focusing on just one issue, like limiting our use as humans, or reducing carbon, is the answer. As the authors point out, sometimes what we need is a new plan.

The reality is that making a big dent in global warming might require slashing emissions by 80% or more, something that’s not possible with current technology unless we don’t drive, fly, or power our homes. No one will sacrifice that much.

America thrives on ideas and dreams, new technologies and the future. Their suggestion of using these things to overcome this crisis is just that: innovative. I think environmentalists should listen.

-Sarah Nelson


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I completely agree with you. It’s all about the hook — the “how will this affect me” — aspect of the idea. In order to “hook” the audience, the American people, we must tap into the “American Dream.” However, does this dream still exist? What do we want? I feel like as citizens of this great nation, we all want different things. We lack the idea of unity– moving toward one common goal. Until we can formally and effectively communicate that, I’m not sure we’ll get anywhere.

Danae DeShazer

Comment by Danae DeShazer

I don’t think you will ever get people moving toward one common goal.

On the first day of school, most of my classes began with introductions by the students of the class. They said their names, and what they were interested in doing. Not too many said the same thing.

There isn’t rhyme or reason as to why certain messages resonate with certain people. As Professor Sethi said at the beginning of the semester, she wasn’t moved by the plight of the polar bears like other environmentalists.

I think there is a framing problem with the environmental message. It seems as if they feel that since environmental problems effect us all, that there is only one audience to worry about, everyone. But you can’t have a message that will resonate with everyone.

So how do we re-frame the message for different audiences?

Can the environmental movement do that? Or is it up to the intermediate communicators,(the bloggers, journalists, reporters, filmmakers, public relations) to do that?

Adam B

Comment by acbowman

I agree with the fact that the environmental movement does need to be re-framed. Not one message will speak to all people. I believe what the authors are saying here is that instead of speaking to people that already support the cause (i.e. those people who read the blogs) we need to find another way. I think the communicators are doing a great job, but that is also just a starting point.

-Sarah Nelson

Comment by snelson33

I liked how you used the “I have a dream” speech in reference to the death of envrionmentalism speech. It makes sense that people are going to take more action when the message is a positive one, rather than a negative one. Another example of this concerns people who are campaigning for political office. It seems that people are much more responsive to messages that enforce a candidate’s own beliefs, rather than those messages that attack their counterparts. I think that the environmental movement needs to follow these same guidelines.
I also agree that messages need to be framed in certain ways. To me, the polar bears are very important because I love animals and the idea that we could possibly lose certain species because of global warming frightens me. However, the pollution in the air doesn’t bother me as much. The problem here is that everything is connected and we must all work together to keep what interests us the most safe.

Lindsay C

Comment by lindsaycr

Very fruitful conversation in regards to what we are trying to achieve with the class. You’re right, to treat “everyone” as a monolithic entity is short-sighted, at best. There’s also something in the timing of this. The article came out just as green was gaining steam. How would it have been received today? Or three years ago? It’s about reaching the audience(s) when they are ready, no?

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

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