Chesapeake: Bay on the Brink is a multimedia journalism project investigating federal-state efforts to clean up North America’s largest estuary through reporting, informing and engaging people on the fate of the bay. The Web site is produced by a group of fellows at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism as part of News21.
News21 is a national journalism program funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. as part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. News21 (for news in the 21st century) is a summer newsroom program held at eight top journalism schools.
Each summer, 10 to 12 students receive News21 fellowships at each school to do in-depth reporting on a special topic and produce multimedia news stories. For the summer of 2010, the University of Maryland team chose to investigate the long-running effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay to health, a major environmental challenge being closely watched across the United States and other parts of the world.
More than $6 billion has been spent to clean up North America’s largest estuary, yet much of the bay remains in as bad or worse shape today than before the federal-state cleanup began in 1983. After the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie, the Chesapeake has the third largest fish-killing “dead zone” in the nation.
The Obama administration is attempting to ramp up the bay restoration drive by tightening federal regulations and cracking down on pollution, and a bill is pending in Congress to boost spending on the cleanup while giving the federal government more power over states in environmental issues. These moves are drawing pushback from farming and development interests nationwide, who fear whatever curbs are imposed around the Chesapeake could be extended to other troubled watersheds, such as the Great Lakes, Puget Sound or even the Mississippi River.
For more information on News21, visit www.news21.com.
To see the 2009 News21 project created by fellows at the University of Maryland, visit The New Voters.