Society of Environmental Journalists

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Society of Environmental Journalists welcomes Derrick Jackson, a fellow in climate and energy at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, to the SEJ Board of Directors. The board appointed Jackson on April 28 to fill the Associate Member seat vacated when Meagan Parker stepped down April 1.

“It is an honor to join the Society of Environmental Journalists Board to represent associate members, especially at this precarious time in media, federal rollbacks on the environment and the struggle for environmental justice advocates and front-line communities to be heard,” Jackson said. “I hope that I can be useful to SEJ in its efforts to sustain this vital wing of the craft and help it grow so that environmental writers look more like the nation and affected communities it covers.”

Jackson, a photographer and former columnist and associate editor at the Boston Globe, is the author of the 2015 book, “Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock.” He joined SEJ in 2003, has served as an SEJ awards judge and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His work has won numerous national and regional awards in addition to awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, Education Writers Association and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. He is a winner of the Columbia University Meyer Berger Award.

Jackson will provide an important voice on the board as SEJ concludes its search for an executive director. The board expects to hire for the position this summer.

SEJ President Bobby Magill said Jackson’s presence on the board is a step toward SEJ’s goal to address challenges of diversity within the organization and in newsrooms across all media.

“Jackson’s voice on the board will help SEJ provide journalists with tools to effectively cover environmental justice and address bias and racism in environmental news coverage,” Magill said. “Derrick’s passion to correct injustices in news reporting is critical to the future of journalism and is deeply relevant as SEJ convenes our annual conference this year in Flint, Mich.”

Jackson, in a 2017 Harvard Shorenstein Center paper , vigorously criticized journalists covering the Flint Water Crisis for unjustly ignoring marginalized Flint residents.

“For many longtime environmental justice and environmental racism researchers and activists, the failure of the national media to pay attention to people raising hell confirmed their long-held skepticism that the nation’s top newspapers, magazines and television news staffs rarely dedicate themselves to sustained, sensitive and searing coverage that changes government and corporate behavior on toxic dumping in poor communities and communities of color,” Jackson wrote.

“When the government treats the people like those in Flint as disposable, it is the duty of the media not to help government throw the people into the landfill. Instead, the people in these communities deserve serious treatment by reporters, even as government seeks to discredit them,” Jackson concluded.

Magill said there is an urgent need for such a perspective in SEJ leadership, and Jackson’s appointment to the board will address this.

Jackson replaces Parker, who has resigned after six years of service on the SEJ Board.

Magill said Parker’s expertise provided the board an important voice for Associate members. She was instrumental in organizing SEJ’s annual winter event at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

“My two terms on the board of the Society of Environmental Journalists have been some of the most rewarding years of my life. I am tremendously grateful to Beth Parke, SEJ staff, and fellow board members for sharing their experience and expertise with me while working tirelessly to support SEJ’s members and fulfill its mission,” Parker said.

“While increased demands in my current position require me to step away from formal service, I will continue to volunteer with this amazing organization in other ways. In this critical moment, SEJ’s efforts to strengthen environmental and energy journalism are essential, and its Associate Members have a key role to play in helping SEJ achieve its vision. I know Derrick will serve them — as well as all of SEJ’s members and stakeholders — incredibly well, and I look forward to opportunities to support his efforts.”

Jackson will serve on the board until October when the Associate Member board seat will be up for election. Of the 15 seats on the SEJ Board, 13 are held by Active Members who are journalists and freelancers working for news organizations. One seat is held by an Academic Member working or studying at a university, and one seat is held by an Associate Member who is a journalist but whose primary work is in other fields or who is employed by a group that lobbies for environmental causes.

The Society of Environmental Journalists is the oldest and largest such group in the world. The award-winning non-profit is one of America's leading journalism associations.
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