Faculty-edited book on environmental news coverage wins research award

Jonathan F. McVerry
June 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A lack of research on how news media from around the world covers climate change inspired Penn State scholar Juliet Pinto to join colleagues in studying environmental coverage from Latin America and the Caribbean. She and her collaborators recruited scholars to study the reporting and journalistic methods in seven countries. That collection of research resulted in an award-winning book.

News Media Coverage of Environmental Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” published by Palgrave Macmillan, won the 2019 AEJMC-Knudson Latin America Prize. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication presents the award to scholars for books or research projects that examine issues and challenges in Latin American media.

“Public opinion polls show that people in Latin America are concerned about climate change, and we know that the way people perceive environmental issues is important,” Pinto, associate professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, said. “It’s an area that’s ripe for research.”

“Every country is different. Within every country there are significant differences and needs in localities and municipalities. Values change from place to place.”

— Juliet Pinto, associate professor in the Bellisario College of Communications

The book is the first comprehensive volume on media and the environment in Latin America, according to the publisher’s website. Chapters include research on news coverage from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. Pinto co-edited the book with Bruno Takahashi and Manuel Chavez, both from Michigan State University, and Mercedes Vigón of Florida International University.

Pinto said people often treat Latin America and the Caribbean as a single entity sharing the same issues and challenges, but she added that that thought not only is untrue, it’s a dangerous way to think.

“Every country is different,” she said. “Within every country there are significant differences and needs in localities and municipalities. Values change from place to place.”

In one of the chapters, for example, Pinto and Vigón identified a stark difference between the way Cuban state media and Spanish-language media in South Florida covered sea-level rise.

“We found that Cuban state media focused on the science and the policy measures the Cuban government was taking,” Pinto said. “There was no discussion of political debate over whether the science was credible or whether or not climate change was happening,” like in South Florida media, she added.

Other topics in the book include environmental journalism in Brazil, coverage of small-scale mining in Peruvian newspapers, challenges of environmental reporting in Mexico, and more.

Pinto is a senior scholar in Penn State’s Science Communication Program, a research center in the Bellisario College that studies how science is communicated.

The Knudson Award was endowed by the late Jerry Knudson, an emeritus professor at Temple University. The winning project must contribute to the “knowledge about Latin America to U.S. students, journalist or the public.”

“It is a huge honor for our work to be selected for this competitive award,” Pinto said. “It’s a testament to the quality of the manuscripts we received and the importance of the issues.”

  • Juliet Pinto

    Juliet Pinto is an associate professor of journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and a senior scholar in the College's Science Communication Program.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 04, 2019