Freedman Takes Helm of Knight Center for Environmental Journalism

Posted on: December 3, 2013

Eric-Freedman350Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Freedman has been named Knight Chair and director of the John S. and James L. Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, which is housed in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences' School of Journalism at Michigan State University.

Freedman joined the School of Journalism faculty full-time in 1996 after almost 20 years as a newspaper reporter in New York and Michigan. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for coverage of a corruption scandal in the Michigan legislature.

He now serves as the director of Capital News Service, the School of Journalism's public affairs reporting internship program, which is one of the leading legislative and state government news sources for media outlets throughout Michigan.

A former MSU associate dean of International Studies & Programs, he has led MSU's study abroad program on Australia media, environment and culture and a freshman seminar abroad on media and environment in Scotland. As a Fulbright Scholar, he developed and taught the first university-level course on environmental and science journalism in Uzbekistan.

"Eric Freedman is a highly distinguished journalist and scholar with a deep and long-standing commitment to environmental journalism and educating the next generation of environmental reporters," noted Pamela Whitten, Dean of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences. "I am delighted that he has been appointed as the new Knight Chair and director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

"His expertise and leadership, combined with the outstanding team of scholars already on board at the Knight Center, will ensure that MSU's School of Journalism continues to be at the forefront of this increasingly important and challenging field."

Freedman earned a bachelor's degree in government from Cornell, a law degree from New York University and a master's in resource development from MSU. His master's project examined public lands litigation alliances between Native American and public interest groups.

With the academic and career credentials that clearly enable him to fully appreciate the challenges of being an effective environmental reporter, Freedman recognizes that "environmental and science issues permeate every news beat, from education, sports, health and business to justice, politics, entertainment and foreign affairs."

He acknowledges that "while not all journalists and journalism students need or want to be environmental journalists, all of them should be prepared to understand, analyze and explain the issues to a wide range of audiences in a fair, balanced, accurate and ethical way - regardless of medium."

As a journalist, his interests include public lands, habitat and diversity, invasive species, eco-tourism, forests, international transborder environmental problems, fisheries, environmental enforcement and archaeology. As a researcher, he studies environmental journalism practices and coverage of environmental news in formerly Soviet Central Asia.

His environmental reporting has appeared in publications as diverse as the Detroit News, Earth Island Journal, Automotive News, Times of Central Asia and Canoe & Kayak, as well as SEJournal, published by the Society of Environmental Journalists. His books include Great Lakes, Great National Forests: A Recreational Guide and On the Water, Michigan.

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