Journalism with a Purpose

From the Editor

Ten years ago this June, I moved to San Francisco. I came here for a job (OK – an internship) at The San Francisco Bay Guardian, the city’s oldest alternative weekly. It was an exciting opportunity for an aspiring reporter, a chance to practice the craft of journalism, or, as the case may be with the Guardian, advocacy journalism.

Advocacy journalism works just like the reporting you find in your daily newspaper. Reporters go out into the world, gather facts, conduct interviews, uncover tidbits of information, and then return to their desks and string the news together into a compelling story. The difference with advocacy journalism is that the writer’s work is openly informed by a certain point-of-view, perhaps even a self-conscious mission. The writer deliberately seeks to influence events. Advocacy journalism is about marshaling the facts to make an argument. It relies on the hope that the best ally for creating a saner world is, simply, the truth.

For 22 years, Earth Island Journal has been an award-winning example of how advocacy journalism can succeed in influencing world events for the better. As the magazine’s incoming editor, I look forward to continuing the tradition.

In coming issues, you will see some changes to the magazine – added sections, different layout, a new look. But our core mission will remain the same: to give citizens the information they need to effectively defend and help restore the ecosystems on which we depend – that is, to practice a kind of journalism that contributes to the wider movement for ecological sustainability.

You can expect to keep finding the blend of on-the-ground investigations and thought-provoking essays that readers have appreciated for years. When there is an alarm to sound, we will let out a yell. When we uncover good news, we will rush to share it with you, knowing that headlines are too often couriers of despair and cynicism.

In this issue – largely edited by Audrey Webb – you’ll find our typical combination of facts and passion. On the discouraging side of the ledger, Elise Wolf reports on attempts to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic seas and the tough fight to stop it. From the optimists’ angle, we have an article by Gerald Marten and Amanda Suutaria about what they call “Eco Tipping Points,” places where environmental destruction has turned into environmental restoration.

It’s a privilege to be a part of this institution of advocacy journalism, and to share with you the everyday art of striking a balance between a skeptical eye and a hopeful heart.

Jason Mark

P.S: As the new editor, I would love to hear what you think of the magazine. Readers, please send us your letters. Freelance writers, please send us story ideas and submissions. All correspondence should go to: or

Jason Mark, Editor
Earth Island Journal
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, California 94133

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