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Local Climate Journalism

Fall 2021 - Pilot


Spring 2022 - Expand


Articles Published So Far

Aug 22, 2021 - How community members change their carbon footprint

Sept 24, 2021 - Changing climate, changing coverage: How The Exponent hopes to improve its climate reporting

Sept 26, 2021 - After years of protesting, high school students announce state legislative initiative

Oct 18, 2021 - Presidential speaker sparks backlash among students and faculty

Oct 19, 2021 - Steve Koonin speaks with Daniels in Presidential Lecture Series

Oct 29, 2021 - Students march for Purdue carbon neutrality

Feb 22, 2022 - IU program aims to help cities address local climate impacts

Mar 28, 2022 - Rethinking the endowment: Faculty seek to shift Purdue's endowment toward renewable energy

Apr 8, 2022 - Students will release climate action plan for Purdue

Apr 12, 2022 - Purdue's energy infrastructure contributes to climate change

Apr 14, 2022 - Building better buildings

Apr 19, 2022 - Professors voice concern, confusion over new Duke Energy natural gas plant

Apr 19, 2022 - Personal vehicles create majority of transportation-related emissions

Apr 22, 2022 - Unpacking the Climate Action Plan: Food systems changes can help Purdue reduce emissions

Apr 24, 2022 - Earth Week keynote speaker discusses human dimensions of landscape architecture



In Apr 2020, Lucas Bleyle was a freshman at Purdue University. He published a front page story in their newspaper, The Exponent, called Purdue makes slow start toward carbon neutrality.


The newspaper wanted him to cover other topics, in addition to climate, but he wanted to focus solely on that issue.

When we learned what student journalists like Lucas make per article, we realized we might be able to underwrite his passion. That's when David and Katie Harting -- a carbon neutral household in Westfield, IN -- stepped in.

Generously, David and Katie decided to sponsor Lucas's climate journalism for the fall of 2021. If it goes well, they'd like to sponsor him for another semester.

Our current plan is to brainstorm story ideas with Lucas. As the journalist, he gets the final say about what he writes about. He also gets the final say about what he submits to be published. Ultimately, The Exponent gets the final say on what gets published. But Carbon Neutral Indiana can participate in generating story ideas and connecting him to our resources throughout the state and country.

Lucas has four semesters left at Purdue. That's a lot of articles! Perhaps enough for a book when he graduates. One idea we've explored is analyzing Purdue as a particular example of a larger pattern. Purdue is a land grant university in a conservative state. As such, it has unique challenges decarbonizing. There are about 70 other universities in its situation. Perhaps Lucas's work could be crafted into a book that provides insight for other universities like Purdue. Who knows!

If this goes well, we'd like to connect other carbon neutral households to student journalists at other universities throughout Indiana. We could have a cohort of journalists, around the state, that meet a few times a week to support one another, share resources, and tackle bigger stories together.


Do You Want to Fund Local Climate Journalism at Your College Newspaper?

We created this video for leaders of college newspapers:


Do You Want to Fund Local Climate Journalism?

We created this video for potential sponsors:


Full Interviews with Participants

The Journalist - Lucas Bleyle, student journalist at the Purdue Exponent


The Editor - Joe Duhownik, Editor-in-Chief at the Purdue Exponent


The Sponsor - David Harting, software engineer and carbon neutral household



More Context

Purdue is growing quickly. In the past 17 years, their enrollment grew 18.6%, adding over 7,000 students:


But at the same time, the independent, nonprofit student newspaper, The Purdue Exponent, is shrinking. During those same 17 years, their revenue decreased 57.5%:


If you compare these trends, and look at the student newspaper's revenue per student, that's down 62.5% over that period, from $48/student to $18/student.

Right as Purdue's student population is booming, there are less resources available for students to reflect on, make sense of, and articulate their perspectives. This is critical for young people to become healthy, robust thinkers and citizens.