Published: April 10, 2024 By

Journalism helps connect us. Whether you’re reading a hyperlocal story based in your town, or a story based in a city oceans away, the words of journalists play a vital role in linking  our world. Without reporters, much of the world's beauties and atrocities would go unnoticed on a global scale. Journalism is as important as ever, and reporters continue to take up their pens, cameras, and recorders in the hopes of connecting our fragmented world. As the annual Conference on World Affairs returns to CU, with the Center for Environmental Journalism’s Ackland Lecture in Environmental Journalism once again on the program, Devin Farmiloe, graduate assistant to the CEJ, sat down with this year’s panelists to better understand the role of journalism on the international stage. 

As we look to the future, former Ted Scripps Fellow and multimedia journalist Chris Lett thinks it is important to remember the past. “The largely white global north has ended up talking about sustainability without centering the racist past of how the industrial world even came to be through exploitation of raw materials produced by slave labor,” Lett said. “And now the world is focusing on green technology, which is directly exploiting the Congo and various other Black nations. The resources for this green technology are coming at the expense of children and nations.” Without centering this past, Lett says, the sustainability movement has largely repeated itself.

Hillary Rosner, the assistant director of the Center for Environmental Journalism, a former Ted Scripps Fellow, and the author of a forthcoming book on wildlife connectivity, believes that people need to be more mindful of our fractured landscape. “The way that we have completely altered the planet for human purposes impacts humans and also all other species on Earth. We need to be paying more attention to that.”

Both on a local and global level, journalism helps to inform the public on what is happening behind the scenes, arming them with the information needed to make educated decisions. Ishan Thakore, a current Ted Scripps Fellow, sees journalism as a vital part of building a more equitable world. “Journalism can be a catalyst because it can really expose things that get lost in the details or are hard to understand,” Thakore said. “Having an informed citizenry can help us move towards a more equitable world by making sure that people's public promises and their policy announcements actually happen.” 

Luke Runyon, a former Ted Scripps Fellow and co-director of The Water Desk, believes that “journalists have always played a role in advocating for justice and ensuring that leaders are held accountable,  injustices don't go unnoticed, and people who traditionally have not had a voice in the political realm are given one.” Runyon is a longtime reporter on the Colorado River Basin, a massive and diverse swath of the United States with 40 million citizens who rely on his reporting to stay informed about the river that provides them with fresh drinking water. 

Kara Fox, a digital producer for CNN International and a current Ted Scripps Fellow, believes journalism is about “shining a light for the public to make informed choices at the ballot box and within their personal lives.”

Just as we are linked through the words, photos, and videos shared around the globe by journalists, we are also linked by the changing of our planet. Join us online or in person for the Conference on World Affairs and Ackland Lecture on Thursday, April 11th in the Macky Auditorium from 3:15-4:25 p.m. MST to hear Runyon moderate a panel discussion where Lett, Rosner, Thakore, and Fox share their experiences in a discussion about the importance of journalism on the world stage.