By Courtney Leiva
During the last half of the semester, I had the great opportunity to dive into the realm of environmental reporting. Mahwah Patch, a town online news source, provides local news on a variety of topics and issues.
In April, I began reporting officially for the site. As a freelance reporter, I was allowed by my editor to report on issues that I wanted to cover on the site. Wanting to take what I have learned in this class and incorporate it in real life reporting, my editor and I decided that I would report on environmental stories in Mahwah.
On the Mahwah patch site, the month of April was dedicated to reporting environmental stories to correspond to Earth Day. My first assignment was reporting on Ramapo College’s green incentives.
My editor wanted me to write about the school's green policies as well as how students are making a greener difference at Ramapo.This article required a lot of research about the college policies as well as environmental groups on campus. I contacted Professor Ashwani Vasishth, Director of Master of Arts in Sustainability Education, at Ramapo College as well as 1Step members Noah Luogameno and Amanda Nesheiwat.
Reporting this story allowed me to see how Ramapo has incorporated green incentives in areas like student living and school curriculum. I learned also that Ramapo College works with Mahwah environmental groups such as M.E.V.O (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Association) to help further their environmental cause.
The second article that I have reported for Patch thus far was about where the trash and recycling goes in Mahwah. For this assignment, I contacted the trash supplier for the town Suburban Disposal. After speaking with Suburban Disposal manager Danny Parisi, I learned that trash in Mahwah was sent to a plant called C& A Carbone Inc, on Western Highway, in Western Nyack, N.Y. In order to find out where Mahwah’s recycling goes, I contacted Mahwah Public Works Director Keith Hallissey. The story was a shorter piece, but still nonetheless gave me insight into reporting environmental stories.
The last story that I reported during the semester was a business-profile story but it was still an environmentally themed story. Give a Green Bag, run by Suzanne Lippe, is an online store, which offers green products. The store is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Green Business Bureau; it is a fair-trade and ethical business practice that offers anything from biodegradable dog poop bags to hemp-made sponges. I have reported feature stories with Patch before, but this story allowed me to cover a profile of a business with an environmental message.
Although Earth month at Mahwah is officially over, I have learned a lot from the three environmental articles that I wrote for the site. I learned that despite how small the town, there are still environmental issues no matter where you go. By taking what I have learned in this class and incorporating it into actual reporting, I was able to see environmental reporting works. I will continue to report for Patch after the semester and will try to report on environmental issues whenever I can.