Fred Thomas, voice for the environment: An interpretive analysis and historic narrative of the column "Your Environment", 1972--1997

by Vanderpool-Kasel, Christine, M.A., UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA, 2009, 103 pages; 1462568

Abstract:

Fred Thomas served as environmental reporter for the Omaha World-Herald from 1970-1995, and produced a weekly column, Your Environment, for 25 years. This thesis asked the questions: What elements of reporting and writing converged in Fred Thomas' columns to instruct his readership on environmental issues, events, or items of interest? How does the column respond to the criticisms and challenges of environmental journalism?

This qualitative review of the column "Your Environment" 1972-1997 reveals constructive insights for those who cover the environmental beat. Thomas' writing did not conform to the criticisms of environmental journalism. He did not rely solely upon traditional news values such as conflict in crafting his stories, but also included other evaluative standards including aesthetics and educational or recreational opportunities. He was honest and transparent about his advocacy for the environment, but maintained a belief in balance, accuracy and fairness as being at the core of credible journalism. His stories were in-depth, and placed the issues in context. He utilized several writing styles, including first person observation, prose, traditional news reporting, and nature writing, and he presented those stories in a variety of ways, including features, commentary, hard news and profiles. And he was consistent over the years in covering events, issues or subjects which he felt carried importance to his readership.

A qualitative review of selected years of "Your Environment" revealed changes the column underwent over the course of 25 years, as well as elements of writing and reporting that Thomas used in the column. The results of the literature review and results of the document analysis were compared to discern similarities or disparities. The findings were based on the researcher's interpretive analysis.

AdvisersBruce Johansen; Thomas Bragg
SchoolUNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsJournalism; Mass communication; Environmental science
Publication Number1462568

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