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New Fellowship for Environmental Journalists and Educators
The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced today the
establishment of the H. John Heinz III International Fellowship in
Environmental Reporting. The fellowship is designed to help improve the
environmental reporting skills of journalists in other countries, to share
the latest information on this issue, and to encourage more reporting on
The winner of this inaugural fellowship will spend up to three months
training journalists and reporting on environmental issues in countries or
regions of his or her choice. Preference will be given to countries or
regions in the developing world or in new democracies.
The fellowship will cover the awardee's travel, hotel, health insurance
and other costs while on assignment, plus an honoraria. It is open to
working journalists from the print and broadcast media, and to journalism
The application form and more information on the H. John Heinz III
International Fellowship on Environmental Reporting can be downloaded from
the ICFJ website, http://www.icfj.org or by email to .
Deadline for applications is Nov. 3, 1997.
ICFJ is an international nonprofit organization established in 1984 to
share advanced media skills and information with journalists and news
organizations around the world. It has trained more than 7,000 journalists
from 172 countries. The H. John Heinz III International Fellowship on
Environmental Reporting is funded by a grant from The Teresa and H. John
Heinz III Foundation.
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IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE WHO DOESN'T WANT TO LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY?
In one of those strange juxtapositions of life, a sane little book arrived in
my mail this week as if it were meant to be contrasted with the insane debate
our senators were holding on campaign reform.
"The Technique of Consensus" the book is called, its author is Richard H.
Graff, he published it himself. Graff puts forth a technique intended, he
says, to help people find shared ideas and objectives, instead of dwelling on
disagreement and conflict.
Try, says Graff, to frame discussions through nontrivial questions to which the
expected response will be not defensive argument, but thoughtful silence. He
gives some zinging examples:
Does anyone disagree that farming practices should be sustainable in the long
Is there anyone who thinks that company profit and shareholder value are more
important than the long-term well-being of our species?
Can anyone point to someone who is less deserving than him- or herself?
Is it a good idea for us to divide ourselves into groups and factions that hate
Sitting in silence, thinking through the implications of the questions and
waiting for rebuttal (which may come, and which will be instructive if it does)
is the important part of the exercise. Graff adds three stipulations to keep
the exercise in bounds. First, any response must be accompanied by a reason.
If you say, "I don't agree" but refuse to say why, you can be ignored. Second,
no quibbling. Editing the premise to clarify it is fine, but not muddying it
up with unimportant distinctions or distractions. Third, speak only for
yourself. No making up some other party who you imagine might disagree.
What grabbed my attention, given the Senate debate, was Graff's examples in the
realm of politics. He starts with: Does anyone think that politics should not
be based upon ethical principles?
"Our audience has to remain silent," says Graff, imagining the response to this
question. "Everyone looks around to see who's going to speak up. Even those
who may be violating the principle do not disagree with it, and thus they are
faced with the inescapable fact that they are behaving in a way that is at
variance with their own beliefs." Since the rule is to speak only for
yourself, there can be no finger-pointing, no "but so-and-so is unethical." No
one stands accused except by him- or herself, so there can be no hypocritical
scrapping of the sort that dominates Washington.
Graff continues with: Does anyone think it is a good idea for our elected
representatives to be unduly influenced by special interests?
A question could arise about the meaning of "unduly," he admits, so he suggests
further questions to stake out the arena of undue influence. Such as: Does
anyone think it is OK for substantial contributions to be given in support of a
congressman's election, in the understanding that that congressman will support
legislation that unjustly favors one particular interest at the expense of the
The subsequent resounding silence won't put an end to undue influence, says
Graff. But it will "put those who are exerting ... such influence into an
untenable position. It is clear to them that no one supports ... such behavior
-- including themselves."
So all week, as the senators have been reminding me of the parlous state of our
democracy (only six percent of Americans gave campaign funds to any candidate
in the last election; less than half the eligible voters voted), I've been
thinking up Graff-inspired questions.
Is anyone happy with the fact that our politicians spend at least half their
time (time for which we pay them through our taxes) raising funds for their
Does anyone believe we get the best candidates, when no one can stand for
office who is unable to raise millions of dollars?
Would anyone argue that the best decisions for the good of the country can be
determined by the relative amounts of money people are willing to pay to back
Do we have the kind of free speech that furthers democratic debate and free
political choice, when only those with lots of money can participate in that
Does anyone think that campaign ads give voters important or accurate
information about the ability of a candidate to govern?
Have any of you voted recently for a candidate you honestly thought was
open-minded, untainted by any special interest, dedicated only to serving the
long-term good of the whole people?
Does anyone believe that a system where only rich people (or those supported by
rich people) can run for office, where all politicians are obligated to large
money interests, and where millions of dollars are spent to misinform voters
can rightfully be called a democracy?
Richard Graff says that when questions are phrased this way, he observes the
following results. Everyone stops and thinks before speaking up. Everyone is
enfranchised and empowered. Everyone is treated as a mature adult. The
silence is civilized, peaceful and calming. A sense of community builds.
Also, I would hope, a sense of commitment to make our political system actually
operate by the deep values we all share.
(You can obtain "The Technique of Consensus" for $10 from Richard Graff at 621
Airpark Road, Napa CA 94558-6272.)
(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at