Reporter named Freedom Forum Journalist-In-Residence at URI

KINGSTON, R.I.– October 21, 1998 — As the environmental reporter for the Providence Journal since 1981, Peter Lord has been a familiar face at the University of Rhode Island. Whenever he sought answers for questions on anything from oil spills, to seaweed, to septic tanks, Lord knew that URI with its vast environmental resources, was the place to be. Although he has temporarily closed his notebook and put away his pen, Lord who is a Hopkinton resident, is still roaming the Kingston Campus. As a Freedom Forum Journalist-in-Residence, Lord will be a member of the URI journalism faculty for this academic year, having taken a leave from the Journal. Lord is teaching URI students how to do what he does best-report on the environment. “It’s the biggest story of this century. The environmental damage is so bad,” he says. “For years, the press has been covering the cops, the courts, and the government. Only recently has it begun to focus on science and environmental issues. Yet it takes special training to do that.” Traditionally, journalism attracts students who are not majoring in science. Yet scientists need to become better writers and there needs to be more stories about science, says Lord. Lord is teaching a new course this fall-Journalism 445: Seminar on Marine and Environmental News Coverage-for students including some science majors interested in exploring environmental journalism. Next spring, he will teach a follow-up course. He is also teaching a course in public affairs reporting and overseeing journalism interns. “It’s a huge plus having Peter here,” says Dr. Tony Silvia, chair of URI’s Journalism Department. “Students don’t generally grow up knowing they want to be an environmental reporter. Peter’s presence is extremely helpful. In education, we know that getting exposure to different fields is enormously helpful for students forming career goals. In a few years, we expect to be able to offer an environmental journalism minor.” Lord’s journalist-in-residence status is funded by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit foundation dedicated to free press, free speech, and free spirit for all people. The foundation pursues its priorities through programs including conferences, educational activities, publishing, broadcasting, on-line services, fellowships, partnerships, training and research. As a reporter for the Providence Journal, Lord has specialized in covering environmental issues such as oil spills in Narragansett Bay, water pollution, land development and hazardous waste. His work has taken him to the rain forests in Belize and Guatemala, and to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the American Society of Science Writers and is journalism director of the new Michael P. Metcalf Institute for reporting marine and environmental issues at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. The Institute offers science and environmental educational programs to working journalists. In fact, it was URI’s involvement with the Metcalf Institute that prompted Barbara Lueke, former chair of Journalism, to apply to the Freedom Foundation for an environmental reporter in residence, citing Lord as an example of the kind of person that would be sought. Although he finds teaching harder than he thought it would be, Lord’s enjoying the academic life. He also delights in bumping into URI researchers whom he has covered for the Journal and hearing the outcomes their projects he has covered. Lord says his temporary replacement at the Journal originally worried that he wouldn’t be able to find stories about the environment. “Now he realizes the problem isn’t findings stories, it’s choosing which ones to write.” -xxx- For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116