Only a handful of mainstream media sources are producing quality environmental journalism these days. But the Public Broadcasting Service still is -- and is proving it with a new web and TV project called Planet Forward.
The show doesn’t feature charismatic megafauna, breathtaking images of ecosystems, green products or home repair, but instead focuses on the dialogue between the local people, organization leaders and government officials on planet-focused topics, like renewable energy and alternative transportation.
Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno hosts the new show, which features the thoughts and ideas of expert panelists, newsworthy guests and audience members, who are encouraged to submit commentary online. The particular episode I saw (which will premiere on Wednesday, April 15) featured L. Hunter Lovins, Shai Agassi and James Connaughton as panelists. Together they reviewed a handful of clips related to America’s energy and transportation futures. The panel discussed everything from nuclear to solar, biomass to wind, oil to electric.
The stories were well put together and informative. Each of the panelists’ responses added to the story, each providing differing points of view, but doing so intelligently. For example, the panelists didn't fight about whether climate change was real, but instead spent time examining the options for alternatives. A TV news show that has more facts than hype, and that I felt more informed after listening to? Remarkable.
Sesno wraps up the show by interviewing Carol Browner, the assistant to the President for energy and climate change. They first discuss renewable energy implementation challenges at both the personal and technological level, and the difficulties with each. To end the show, they brought up four people from the audience who personally created clips to present to Browner, who they hope will take their stories back with her to the White House.
I have to be honest, I loved this show. It was informative without being alarmist or boring, one-sided or dry. I particularly like how they presented perspectives, questions and media creations from the public. Planet Forward talks to the right people, about the right things. And, if they stay on this track, they will undoubtedly play a necessary role in moving the debate from a place of "should we" to "how will we." I look forward to watching it on PBS.org. And if you have a TV, check it out Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.