Today I went to the clean energy rally in front of University Hall. I was there as a member of Coal Free Mizzou, we and some other groups were marching in response to President Forsee’s letter about the climate bill. For some reason one of the photographers was really focusing on shooting pictures of me specifically. I don’t know what paper he was from, but there is a good chance I am going to be the face of that rally considering the way he was taking photos and took my name afterward.
Is it okay for me to participate in rallies and groups with opinions as a journalist? I am not sure how this is looked at from other journalists’ perspectives. In my mind I have this one topic that I feel strongly about and I don’t want to stifle that feeling because I sometimes work at news outlets. I want to be able to keep them separate. Sometimes I will be crusading around trying to get coal off of campus, looking for faculty endorsements, participating in rallies, and writing opinionated guest columns. Other times I’ll be working for the newsroom, putting together video pieces, and staying as unbiased as humanly possible. I think I’m perfectly capable of keeping the two lives separate.
It’s not as if I have some blind bias towards clean energy and a healthy environment. I’ve researched these things deeply. I’ve read articles arguing against human caused climate change and those arguing that it is real. I’ve read a book all about the effects of coal by a Jeff Goodell, a NY Times writer (no one writes books in favor of coal). I’ve seen the effects of harmful pollution in my internship with Greenpeace this summer. The research I’ve done and constantly do on the subject let me know that I am still doing the right thing.
Recently I submitted some op-eds or guest columns to the local papers and I am fairly sure I will be in the Missourian for the latest rally at University Hall. I even made a short speech over the mega phone at the rally because I’m a group leader who’s not afraid of public speaking. I do these things because I think it will help our cause and I have the ability to do them. The climate and clean energy is practically the one issue I really do care about and I don’t want to abandon that.