Comfort article traces history of intersection of environmental advocacy, journalism
An article by assistant professor Suzannah Evans Comfort traces environmental nongovernmental organizations’ use of journalism tactics as an advocacy tool between the 1960s and the 1980s.
“Journalism as an Advocacy Tool: Negotiating Boundaries of Professionalism in the 20th-Century American Environmental Movement” appears in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. It’s a historical analysis of the development of environmental advocacy journalism in the middle of the 20th century based on archives of internal documents from publications produced by the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the Wilderness Society.
Comfort found that these publications began to adhere to journalistic professional norms such as accuracy, timeliness, fairness and balance as early as the 1960s. The relationship between advocacy and journalism was uneasy at first, she wrote, with editors balancing competing priorities.
She says the observations have modern implications with the rise of nonprofit-funded news and overtly partisan news organizations.