Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Meeting April 3-7, 2024

PCSSM is thrilled to partner with the Annenberg Public Policy Center to host the SEJ annual conference at Penn in April 2024. Please see below from the SEJ conference website for more information and registration.

2024 Theme: Democracy, Disinformation, Activism… What’s Environmental Journalism’s Role?

#SEJ2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, takes place April 3-7, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. Keep up to date by subscribing to our Annual Conference email list.

Workshops and tours are filling fast! Register here.

Concerned about COVID? We are too! Read SEJ’s COVID-19 Protocols.

Welcome to Philly! #SEJ2024

We journalists from the Mid-Atlantic region have much to share with our peers across the country, not the least being the huge national battle over fracking and LNG versus renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

Come and learn about a city that wants to be modern and future facing but is held back by issues of poverty, of environmental racism, of infrastructure challenges, as well as development problems.

Still, it is a city of neighborhoods, where community gardens like Philly Herb Hub and KITHS help immigrants feel at home; where sports is a shared religion; where the past is ever present. Philadelphians have bite. They fight for access to resources they need to thrive, trees in every neighborhood to shield kids from a relentlessly hot summer, utilizing empty lots for something good (or anything at all), consistent trash pick up, for the ability to breathe outside without looking up the air quality index.

Like almost everywhere, water is an issue. Flooding and droughts are increasing. Flash flooding in neighborhoods such as Germantown, Eastwick, Manayunk and East Falls become a regular occurance, with more intensity every year.

Philadelphia is almost at the midpoint of the Delaware River, the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi. An interstate river, wherever you stand on its shores, you’re looking across at another state. It rises in New York, where New York City reservoirs on its headwaters supply about half of New York City’s drinking water.

Near the border with New York, you find the battleground where local activity in the turbulent ’60s defeated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a plan — called Tocks Island — to flood the river valley for flood control and hydroelectric power. The USACE lost, just as we started celebrating Earth Day.

The river flows clean and clear between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, only as it reaches its urban core — Trenton, Philadelphia and Wilmington — it becomes more problematic.

Advocates want to see the river be welcoming and open to residents historically denied access, such as the Lenape, who are still asking the state of Pennsylvania to recognize their nation.

Problems with the Delaware not only consist of toxic pollution like PCBs and PFAS/PFOS but of old sewer systems that can get overwhelmed with heavy rain and allow sewage to get dumped into the river.

As the river widens into the Delaware Bay, the effects of sea level rise become evident, especially for the lowest-lying state, Delaware. And the communities of New Jersey’s bayshore are also losing the battle.

Go west and you come to the watershed of the Chesapeake, which sprawls across six states — Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — and the entire District of Columbia. It has its own share of problems with pollution, especially from its famed farms.

There are SO many stories — let your community help you figure out which stories demand your attention, learn how to tell them and find the support you need through the tough road that lies ahead.

Philadelphia’s story reveals the potential of community resilience. As environmental journalists and as an industry at large, we should celebrate resilience but also never forget the root causes that spur community mobilization, especially given the urgency of today’s climate issues.

Environmental reporters were among the first to be casualties of the fierce and unrelenting cutback in newsrooms all over the country. Once thought to be a luxury, more and more people are realizing that our reporting is essential and where once our stories may have had a 50,000-foot viewpoint (and rightly so), our stories are now in our readers’ backyards.

We are witnessing history and chronicling it. We are uplifting the voices that have previously been unheard and learning from them going forward.

People have been misled by disinformation and misinformation — it’s our job to cut through the chaos and help people see what’s really happening. We will be focusing on the tools you need to find the truth and tell it.

And we’re facing another crucial election. Pennsylvania mirrors the country — both “flanks” of the state — especially in urban Philly and Pittsburgh — lean Democratic. The rest of the state does more than lean Republican, giving us, usually, a Democratic governor and a restive Republican legislature. If the last election is an indicator of what elections will be like, eyes will be on the state and the city.

As our world begins to feel the effects of climate change in the here and now, the work we do as environmental journalists has never been more important. The network of SEJ — which you will connect with at this conference — will help you get the job done, and keep you balanced in an unbalanced world.

Your #SEJ2024 conference chairs,

Meg McGuire, Founder/Publisher of, an online news magazine focused on the Delaware River and watershed

Kristine Villanueva, Educator and Engagement Journalist, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York