Environmental reporting has been woven into the news fabric of Southern California for at least 40 years, according to Bob Long, vice president and news director of NBC owned-and-operated KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. From earthquakes, air pollution and drought to water quality, wildfires and preserving wetlands, stories about the environment often lead the newscast.
"Since the success of Al Gore's film ['An Inconvenient Truth'], which was quite an acknowledgement, and Gov. Schwarzenegger's more moderate stance on the environment, it's natural we would all be wanting to be paying more attention," said Mr. Long.
The station has a dedicated environmental reporter, Pablo Pereira, who also is the weekend weathercaster. Mr. Pereira also blogs on the station's Web site about topics ranging from recycling to solar power and hybrid vehicles.
Yet KNBC's commitment to environmental journalism runs a deeper and wider course, with the station winning a Peabody Award last year for its series of investigative reports on a huge housing development being built on top of a methane gas field. Like so many stories that focus on the environment, it had angles that involved politics, business and science.
"I've always thought environmental reporting was worthy and will not go away," Mr. Long said. "We have not done research to see if the audience specifically wants it, but I think it's our obligation. It's the kind of thing you can schedule and work on in advance and identify as part of your station, a win-win kind of thing.
"It's important, it's a hot topic, and business supports it. The people whose job it is to make money are happy to see us do this and get it sponsored. It's the kind of issue everyone wants to be associated with," he added.
Several years ago, KNBC launched an environmental initiative called 4 Our Planet, sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. That morphed into Going Green, an initiative that originated at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., in 2005. Viewers responded in force to branded news segments, and the station created a Web component that generated further response. The initiative expanded to all 10 NBC O&Os last spring.
In addition, 12 Telemundo stations are taking part in the green initiative with "Cuida Lo Verde," a weekly on-air segment with a Web page that mirrors the material found on the NBC stations' Going Green sites.
Going Green includes news segments on topics ranging from environmental policy to tips on how to reduce waste and suggestions on how to live a greener life at home. The segments demonstrate simple ways for viewers to be eco-friendly.
To complement the regular on-air segments, the NBC television stations division also aired a half-hour special, "50 Ways to Go Green." The program highlighted ways to be environmentally conscious in different areas of everyday life, including at the store, in the car and at home. The stations plan to run more specials in the future.
Each O&O Web site contains designated sections for video clips, resource links, photos and articles, as well as opportunities to submit new story ideas.
Some stations, including KNSD-TV in San Diego and KXAS-TV in Dallas, have an event calendar that encourages the community to volunteer at cleanup events or attend eco-friendly outdoor events.
The sites also provide an extensive list of green resources, featuring links to environmental agencies, where to recycle and how-to tips. There is even a carbon and energy calculator that helps users identify their direct impact on the Earth.
WMAQ-TV in Chicago and WRC have sponsored Green Festivals, environmental expos that feature speakers, green businesses, how-to workshops, green film screenings, a fair-trade pavilion, yoga and movement classes, organic cuisine and live music.
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