Climate Change, Ticks, and Environmental Journalism

Environmental issues are extremely important to acknowledge, especially with some of the current changes taking place in America. Although they affect the entire country, it is important to acknowledge just how much they affect us here in Minnesota. Dan Kraker is someone who understands how to do that extremely well.

Kraker is someone who I believe to be wholeheartedly an environmental journalist. The information he puts out is there to educate us on topics that most of us might not otherwise be aware of. His first article on the Tick triggered allergy is not something that I would have ever looked into. It is a generally pretty informative and somber tale, one that leaves you hoping to not be bitten by a tick on your next camping trip. As we now understand the possibility of never being able to eat meat again if we happen to get that one unlucky bug.

Something I really appreciated about his writing was how many sources he used, and how many times he chooses to directly quote those sources rather than paraphrase them. When writing for the sciences it can be very easy to fall into the monotony of reciting facts and figures, leaving the reader uninterested and unable to focus on the actual meaning of the story. The use of quotations and multiple sources really helps to bring a constant energy to the piece. Instead of telling us how the tick bites affect someone medically, he also lets them tell us how it affects them both physically and at times emotionally.

His use of multiple sources also comes into play in his second article about climate change. Something I really liked about this piece was his understanding of his readership. This is a piece that will most likely be read by Minnesotans, as it is on MPR so although he addresses the worldwide impacts of climate change he really gives us a Minnesota-centric view of the topic.

“Scientists predict Minnesota’s beloved north woods — the boreal forest of red and jack pine, spruce, birch and aspen will shift northward as the climate warms.”

The woods are not just woods, they are our “beloved” woods. An understanding of what we value here in Minnesota, namely our large amounts of nature, and brining that to the forefront to form a connection to the topic with his readers was something I noticed him continue to do throughout the piece.

Similar to the piece on ticks, the pice on climate change included an abundance of sources. Again, he let the sources do a lot of the talking rather than just reciting the facts back to us in his own words.

Reading the articles where he finds inspiration you can see where he gets some of his tendencies from. They were very wordy, and most did not include many figures. They did tend to be more about policy rather than numbers but while reading them you could still hear voices coming through rather than the recitation of facts that is often found in environmental journalism.

I think the reason i enjoyed his pieces and the way they approached the retelling of facts so much was because I am often exposed to science journalism, and it is not all as interesting as what I read from him. It can be a very touchy subject when you must be accurate but also find a way to speak to your readers as a person and not just as a scientist. Going forward I think his work is a good inspiration for me in that you can find a way to make science journalism interesting, you just have to find the voices behind the figures.