“To take an obvious example—why does energy, a close cousin of the environmental beat, get so much more attention than water? First, energy may seem more interesting and diverse. There are wind turbines and solar panels and drilling rigs and nuclear reactors and fields of corn to make ethanol. Water, by contrast, is more drab; it’s found in lakes and rivers and under the ground. Finding a photograph to accompany an aquifer story is hard, because you can’t actually see the water, only the pumps or pipes above-ground. More important, there’s a lot more money in the energy beat. One US government website estimates that energy is a $6 trillion global industry. Energy reporters are “covering some of the world’s most valuable companies,” notes Brett Walton, of the nonprofit water reporting website Circle of Blue. There’s not nearly as much money in water, which is largely, though not exclusively, controlled by public utilities. Tellingly, water has far fewer niche journalism outfits, including Walton’s Circle of Blue and the more industry-oriented Global Water Intelligence, than does energy.”
Read full coverage of the March 3, 2014 story from the Columbia Journalism Review here.
J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the internationally recognized center for original frontline reporting, research, and analysis on resource issues with a focus on the intersection between water, food, and energy.