NORTH ADAMS -- British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) environmental journalist Mark Kinver has covered stories ranging from bees to elephants and from increasing mercury emissions in developing countries to toxic pollutants raised by oil sands mining operations.
But his focus was local Wednesday morning when Kinver, the 2013 Hardman Journalist-in-Residence at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, gave a talk to about 35 students, faculty and guests at Murdock Hall.
His lecture, "Finding Stories," aimed to give students insight into how journalists can find news. Kinver, 40, said it has always been important for journalists to look for stories by getting to know their community through conversation in common places like coffee shops, pubs or grocery stores. Now he emphasizes the use of social media, including Twitter, and how conversations can be had "anywhere in the world."
It was a tweet about cooling pumps stopping at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the 2011 tsunami in Japan and his knowledge of nuclear power that prompted him to do some more research, and this led him to be one of the first European journalists to break the news about radiation leaking at the plant.
"I used Twitter as a surveillance tool," said Kinver, a self-proclaimed fan of the platform.
However, Kinver said it is still important to use "editorial sense" when sifting through information available through social media and the Internet.
As for how he began his career in environmental journalism, Kinver said he had "no scientific, academic qualifications whatsoever."
"I always had an interest in politics and began to work at an environmental think tank," he said.
Kinver, who now produces a story a day for the BBC science and environmental website, may be working on five to six stories at a time. For aspiring writers, Kinver said that with "basic journalism tools of the trade, you can write about anything."
Following the lecture, MCLA senior Aya Lanzoni, editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Beacon, focused in on the multifaceted fashion of how news spreads.
"It is interesting to realize how much of today's world is changing in how we get our news and how it spreads, especially social media, which is the fastest way to get the story out there," Lanzoni said.
MCLA junior Ryan Flynn, the senior news editor for The Beacon and an English communications major, was surprised by the power of Twitter as a tool for journalists.
"That was interesting for me because I don't have a Twitter account," Flynn said. "It is always funny to imagine a professional journalist spending time on Twitter."
After the lecture, Kinver spent time with student journalists in The Beacon office. For Flynn, this was especially helpful because he was doing his first environmental study article and said that Kniver helped him to "zoom in on a lead."
Kniver has also been visiting journalism classes on campus and interacting with students all this week. He leaves Sunday after eight days in the country. As a journalist for the BBC since he was 16, Kinver has traveled all over the United Kingdom and Europe, but this was his first trip to the United States.
"I'm rubbing shoulders with the next generation of journalists," he said.
The Hardman Journalist-in-Residence is made possible through a grant from the Hardman Family Endowment.