The production schedule of a quarterly magazine works against including late-breaking news. Earth Island Journal hits the newsstands about three weeks after the document is sent to our printers. Do you remember what the top news story was three weeks ago?
If we want breaking news between the Journal‘s covers, we have to get hold of a story several months before the rest of the world catches on. Still, we managed to scoop the New York Times at least twice last year, thanks to the diligence of our contributors. On January 19, 2004 the Times ran a front-page story describing the decline in populations of several Indian vulture species due to the use of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac to treat cattle. The Times story reported on a study that week in Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. And we published the story four months earlier, in October 2003, courtesy of stellar environmental writer Joe Eaton.
In April 2003, we published “Bush’s bizarre science,” which covered the Bush Administration’s unprecedented attack on scientists and scientific panels by squelching the work of dedicated government scientists and by stacking science panels with right-wing activists. A mere ten months later, in February 2004, the New York Times picked up the story.
While we’re proud of these coups, we certainly don’t gauge our success by how often we scoop the Times. Our purpose is to pursue stories we decide are important for our readers to know about, with an emphasis on subjects other publications aren’t covering. Beating the paper of record to a few stories is just a nearly unavoidable bonus.
Our chief asset in our search for new stories is you, O Reader. Most things we print in Earth Island Journal start out as ideas pitched to us by volunteer contributors, pieces of information forwarded by Earth Island members and other readers, or full-blown articles that people decide they just have to get written down.
In other words, we can’t do this without you. We’re always looking for those untold stories, the hidden side of an environmental issue or a struggle to defend a place that many Americans haven’t heard of, and we need your help to bring us those stories. If you’re a writer, give us a call with your pitch. If you’re not a writer but have a compelling story for us to dig into, do likewise.
This issue was produced with the capable and enthusiastic help of intern Léonie Sherman, who now departs to attend the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. Perhaps “depart” is the wrong word: Léonie is already hard at work on articles for upcoming issues of EIJ, in keeping with our grand tradition of contributions by Journal interns emeritus.
Our intern program continues with Mills College graduate and compelling writer Sara Knight. We’re always looking for more interns: if you’d like to add a production cycle at Earth Island Journal to your curriculum vitae, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For $15 you can get four issues of the magazine, a 50 percent savings off the newsstand rate.