Our project

This research and reporting initiative conducted by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and funded by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation aims to improve Americans’ understanding of energy issues by improving reporting on these crucial issues. The goal is to make energy information more accessible to general audiences and close the information gap between science and policy.

A content analysis of thousands of news stories provided a summary and assessment of existing U.S. media coverage of energy issues and identified ways to better explain what’s a stake for energy consumers. The content analysis preceded a reporting initiative in which 12 graduate student reporters traveled to small towns and boom towns that crystallize national energy issues. A program to test results of story impact will provide multi-faceted research for a white paper. The content analysis, reporting project and research will culminate in a Washington roundtable featuring key energy reporters, scientists and policymakers.


  • Closing the reporting gap between science and policy on energy issues.
  • Analyzing current coverage of energy issues.
  • A reporting initiative and audience research to identify best practices for accurate, accessible
    coverage of energy issues.
  • A white paper covering research, reporting initiative and findings.
  • A Washington roundtable to promote discussion of media coverage of energy issues.

The reporting project is being led by Medill Assistant Professor Abigail Foerstner and Professor Ellen Shearer. The content analysis and focus group research based on the stories in the reporting project is being led by Medill Assistant Professor Ashlee Humphreys. All three will collaborate to produce a white paper analyzing the findings of the research and suggesting ways for the news media to better engage the public in energy news and to better inform them about the issues and their impact on Americans’ lives.

For more information, please contact Abigail Foerstner (a-foerstner@northwestern.edu), Ashlee Humphreys (a-humphreys@northwestern.edu) or Ellen Shearer (shearer@northwestern.edu).

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