Campus & Community

Environmental journalist Bill McKibben to receive DU’s Anvil of Freedom Award

Journalist Bill McKibben, known for his impassioned reporting on environmental issues, will receive the University of Denver’s Anvil of Freedom Award at an upcoming Journalism That Matters (JTM) gathering on campus.

Presented each year by the Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies and the University’s Edward W. and Charlotte A. Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, the Anvil of Freedom honors and recognizes individuals whose careers demonstrate commitment to democratic freedoms, ethics and integrity. The award will be presented at 6:30 p.m. April 3 at the Morgridge College of Education. McKibben will deliver the Estlow Lecture, “Report from the Front Lines: The Climate Fight Heats Up,” following the award presentation.

McKibben’s lecture will double as the keynote address for the JTM event, “Journalism is Dead; Long Live Journalism,” which runs April 3–4. The Seattle-based JTM bills itself as a “do-tank” that focuses on cultivating a “lively, informative interaction between journalists, educators, reformers, and community members.” It also aims to support what it calls the “emerging citizen journalist,” the individual who uses everything from Twitter to YouTube to describe and interpret events and policies.

McKibben’s appearance at a JTM gathering complements his own brand of journalistic activism. The author of a dozen books about the environment, he also is the founder of the grassroots climate campaign known as 350.org. Since 2009, 350.org has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries. Time magazine dubbed McKibben “the planet’s best green journalist,” while the Boston Globe hailed him as “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.”

“As a journalist, he has been covering issues related to the environment since the 1980s,” says Estlow Center Director Lynn Schofield Clark. She credits McKibben with introducing general audiences to the complicated science behind such environmental issues as climate change. His career also offers a case study for how journalists can blend reporting and engagement.

“Our views of how a story should be told change over time,” Clark notes. “Having him as an honoree helps us as a journalism school raise questions about the future of journalism.”

The JTM “gathering” — the organization specializes in “unconferences” and other loosely structured networking opportunities — also promises to raise questions about journalism’s future. According to the JTM website, the Denver event aims to explore the “new news ecosystem” and celebrate “participatory journalism” by bringing together journalists, technologists, librarians, students and concerned citizens. Attendees will document what’s working in journalism while devising new strategies for supporting journalism’s values and principles, such as a respect for truth and fierce independence.

The JTM gathering and keynote address are free for University of Denver students, faculty and staff. To RSVP for the event, visit the Estlow Center website. Others can register for the Journalism That Matters gathering here.

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