SEJ conference leaders offer unique insights

Weeks before the Society of Environmental Journalists convened in Miami for its 21st annual conference, Jeff Burnside jumped into social media mode to drum up interest and support for the four-day event.

“Are you coming to our big environmental journalism conference in Miami Oct. 19-23?” Burnside tweeted. “I’d like to personally invite everybody to attend our conference because we’re going to make history. Those people who don’t attend will be hearing about it for years to come.”

More than 1,000 participants are anticipated for the conference, which Burnside is co-chairing. Selling Miami as an environmental destination is an easy task, he said.

“Miami has many environmental problems, such as the sea-level rising, climate change, ocean issues, hurricanes, coral reef issues, issues of marine-protected areas and many more,” Burnside said.

These topics are being discussed during the conference, marking the first time Miami is serving as the host location. Burnside, along with science writer Angela Swafford, has been working to ensure that the conference agenda takes advantage of Miami’s ecological challenges and successes.

“This will be the first time the conference is held in a tropical city along a seaport, so I think this will be a great training ground for our journalists,” said Angela Swafford, the other conference chair.

Burnside, also an SEJ board member, has worked in several cities during his 20-year journalism career. In Miami, he is a member of WTVJ-Channel 6’s Special Projects Unit. He has covered a variety of investigative and in-depth pieces, including several environmental stories he reported in the past few months.

One of his most recent stories is about Cuba’s plans to drill for oil 80 miles from Florida’s coast. In “Embargo Could Prevent Spill Containment if Cuban Oil Drilling Goes Wrong,”, Burnside explains that the 50-year-old Cuban embargo could prevent the United States from cooperating with Cuba in sharing safety equipment and technology capable of containing or preventing a spill. Strong currents could take a spill directly to the Keys, Miami and up Florida’s east coast.

Burnside has been a speaker and panelist on environmental journalism and journalism ethics. He also has won several regional Emmys and journalism awards for TV and newspaper reporting and photography.

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2 responses to “SEJ conference leaders offer unique insights”

  1. TerenceBrown2009 says:

    I think this is a great organization for everyone to learn from. They give so much insight on the environment and matters that no one really wants takes into consideration. They also teach and help others to understand the world we live in and steps to better the environment for genrations to come.

  2. The conference does a lot to help raise awareness about environmental issues. It is a good thing that the SEJ has finally come to Miami. As said in the article there are a lot of environmental issues here. It is good to bring awareness of these issues to more people so people will relize and want to do things to make this issues better.