Greetings, Intrepid Journalist,
Congratulations on your acceptance as a Fellow of the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources’ Lower Mississippi River Institute. We have an excellent and epic program in the works, and we’re delighted you’ll be part of it.
Since 1995, IJNR has helped improve coverage of natural resource issues, taking nearly 1,000 journalists on expeditions throughout North America. We believe that reporters are at their best when they’re out from behind their desk and in the field – seeing the places where human activity and natural resources intersect and meeting people who are shaping some of the most pressing issues of our time. We hope you’re ready to “Get Out There” with us.
Our Institute will begin at dinner on Wednesday, April 24 in St. Louis, and will end in New Orleans on the night of Wednesday, May 1. We ask that all participants commit to the entire program. No leaving early or coming late, please!
A word of warning - you won’t have much downtime! IJNR Institutes are a terrible place to get work done, so don’t promise your editor much from the road – WiFi and cell service will be iffy and our days will be long. We will, however, promise to put a whole lot of story ideas on your radar and introduce you to a wide array of voices and perspectives. Oh, and you’ll join the IJNR family, where you’ll meet colleagues, make friends and be forever one of our esteemed alumni. So welcome aboard! We’re thrilled to have you.
- Dave, Adam, Melissa, Carrie and Mike
What You Get from Us
A “Free Ride” – Once you make it to St. Louis, just sit back and let us take care of the rest. Food, drink, lodging and transportation are all covered. If you find a must-have trinket at some remote truck stop, however, you’re on your own!
Unrivaled Access – IJNR fellows have stood on a well pad as it was being fracked. They’ve peered over the precipice of a mile-wide open pit iron mine. They’ve toured the odiferous (from subterranean storm sewers to CAFOs) and the gorgeous (from Glacier National Park to the Outer Banks). When we say “Get Out There” we mean it.
Incredible Sources – An ideal IJNR stop involves not just a memorable location but a collection of memorable people to tell its story – all on the record. We aim to expose our journalists to a wide array of voices on any given issue. Journalists will meet environmental activists, industry representatives, local landowners and state and federal natural resource managers – often at the same stop.
Time with Your Tribe – It’s rare for folks in our profession to have time to simply “talk shop.” (Or meet face-to-face) Welcome to “Journalist Summer Camp.” Get ready to stay up too late talking about trivial things like making better journalism.
What We Need from You
Your Punctuality – Every speaker you will hear from is volunteering their time. We don’t pay anyone to speak. It’s important we recognize that folks are often taking time out of their own workdays or weekends to meet us. It’s only right that we meet them on time. Please be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there!
Your Attention – This is called the “don’t make the IJNR staff lose their voices” clause. When we speak, it is (usually) to impart some important bit of information to you. Please listen!
Your Flexibility and Sense of Humor – Our trips are exhausting, we know that. And we’re sorry when things don’t go exactly as planned. Or when we pull you away from a source as you try to squeeze in one last question. We’re just trying to make the trains run on time. As Adam says, “We yell because we care.”
A Shout Out – When you get back from your IJNR experience and start filing stories, please, if possible, include something like “Reporting for this article was made possible, in part, by a fellowship with the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources.” If you can link that to www.ijnr.org so much the better! Little things like that help us prove the worth of our programs to our funders.
What Journalists Say about IJNR:
“One week at IJNR has done more direct, relevant service for my work here, and for me as a journalist, than four years of journalism school...or three years as a statehouse reporter.” – Craig Welch, The Seattle Times
“I have a big feature out today for National Geographic on sea-level rise and the Outer Banks. You'll see some familiar sources. And some familiar details about coastal dynamics. I'm not going to lie: writing for National Geographic is a big break for me. And it wouldn't have been possible without IJNR, so thank you, thank you, thank you!” -Sara Peach, freelance writer
“Even though it’s been six years since I took part in an IJNR fellowship, not a day goes by that I don’t put into practice what I learned in my daily reporting on environmental and energy issues in the West. An IJNR fellowship allows environmental reporters the freedom and time to get out of their offices and off their phones and into the field, gaining invaluable knowledge and context from the players and others affected by policies and key issues; something that’s sadly becoming less common in this era of shrinking newsroom budgets.” – Kirk Siegler, reporter, NPR
I can’t imagine a better way to learn about natural resource and environment issues than to be a part of an IJNR fellowship. I can’t imagine a better way to become a better reporter and a more informed watchdog. – Beth Casper, Statesman Journal
“You get to refresh, re-focus, study. Ponder, scheme, make new friends, meet new peers and contacts and brag about it when you get back to the newsroom.” - Dustin Bleizeffer, Casper Star-Tribune