On Nov. 14 at noon, the Missouri School of Journalism’s Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk will host Assistant Professor Kate Rose for a webinar covering her recently announced research into public perceptions of the environment and news media in the river basin. The webinar will be free and open to the public.
Rose will discuss the results of a survey, supported by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, of more than 2,300 people across 10 states, which revealed — among numerous other insights — that many people in the Mississippi River Basin are not aware they live in the basin or don’t recognize the basin’s importance. The basin is the largest in the United States and supplies more than 90% of agricultural exports in the country.
“This research has important implications for anyone who is working to protect the natural resources in the basin, as well as for the journalists who cover the communities and environmental issues in the region,” Rose said. “Learning more about how people in the basin think about their local environment is a key part of understanding land use in the region, but it’s something that hasn’t been studied enough.”
The Ag & Water Desk’s mission is to inform people about what is happening in their local environment and in the larger region. The lessons we are learning from this research can help us do that, and we want to spread the word.Sara Shipley Hiles
David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism, said the webinar will provide an opportunity for environmental reporters, advocacy groups, students and the general public to engage with scientific research firsthand, asking questions and building the kinds of bridges between the community and academic research that the research itself seeks to build.
“The students, faculty and staff in the School’s professional newsrooms work every day to serve the community with fact-based reporting, and part of what makes that possible is having meaningful conversations with the community,” Kurpius said. “Both this research and the webinar are about taking that conversation further and seeing what is possible.”
Indeed, a bright spot in Rose’s research indicated a willingness from people in the basin to engage on environmental issues in their communities, with a majority of those surveyed noticing significant changes to their state and local environments. University scientists and extension agents were also found to be among the most trusted sources of information about science and the environment.
Sara Shipley Hiles, executive director of the Ag & Water Desk, sees the webinar as the first step in leveraging those insights to inform the public about research in the basin.
“The Ag & Water Desk’s mission is to inform people about what is happening in their local environment and in the larger region,” Hiles said. “The lessons we are learning from this research can help us do that, and we want to spread the word.”