This fall, a team of Stony Brook journalism students came together to tell the story of the Great South Bay, a 45-mile stretch of water between Long Island and Fire Island, an Atlantic barrier island.
The story, “Can Long Island withstand another Superstorm Sandy,” is actually a series of pieces exploring the impact of climate change in the area: fisheries, pollution, adaptation and mitigation efforts, as well as the historical and cultural importance of the now-threatened Fire Island to the LGBTQ+ community.
“Climate change isn’t just measurements and data. It’s people, places, ways of life, and this generation is going to be more affected by it than almost anyone else alive today,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “These five students found a way to tell a comprehensive and compelling story about one part of the world, how it’s changing, and what we may be able to do to adapt and survive. This is student journalism at its finest.”
The students who participated in the project are upper-division journalism students: Joseph D’Alessandro, Julia Heming, Francesca Mevs and Joanne Yao. School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences student Iryna Ivanyuk, who is minoring in journalism, also participated in the project.
“The students designed the project to introduce readers to the Great South Bay through a series of vignettes, and then to take deep dives into particular parts of the area’s climate, economy and culture,” said J.D. Allen, the journalism instructor who led the project. “The stories they found examine climate change and humankind’s impact on the bay, as well as on our culture, history and community. That’s a huge project, and these students surpassed even my highest expectations.”
The project was supported by the MJS Foundation, which has previously supported the SoCJ’s slavery on Long Island reporting project that won a national Murrow Award and was published in Newsday and on WSHU Public Radio.