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HOW THE MEDIA CAN CHANGE PUBLIC OPINIONby Aaron Dorman “Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more.”--Fahrenheit 451 “You see, I bought the red car so I could dismantle it!!!!”--Judge Doom, Who Framed Roger Rabbit IT’S HURRICANE SEASON! But Donald Trump still doesn’t believe in climate change. Neither does Scott Pruitt, his head of the EPA. Or does he? Countless articles over the past few weeks have tried to hold their feet to the fire (as well as countless other conservative feet) by lambasting America’s (Republican) political leadership as hopelessly stubborn in their ignorance. This is the wrong approach. Instead, I’ll point to a small smattering of the journalism that I consider to be better approaches to covering the combined shock of hurricane season and the new EPA’s “response.” Without devolving into a laundry list of online articles, it’s good to think of general categories:
- Articles that focus on the regional impacts of storm damage, such as chemical explosions, toxic overflow, and other problems that require immediate attention and resources (re: funding).
- Articles that focus on the structural inadequacy of existing laws and regulations ability to protect vulnerable citizens. Mother Jones, for example, recently highlighted how Houston’s lax zoning laws could lead to Harvey victims permanently losing their homes.
- Articles that focus on the consequences of deregulation or lax standards, thus highlighting the need for such protection. A recent Nation editorial, for example, while a bit fluffy, at least raised the question: Why is charity aid better than government aid? The answer, which Democratic congressional candidates ought to remember in 2018, has something to do with emergency preparation (i.e. “prevention is better than cure”). And a recent Associated Press article highlighted the sort of thing Scott Pruitt and Congress must be confronted on each and every day: Why are you cutting Superfund money when we’ve just seen a hurricane turn Houston into a toxic soup?