Resources for Covering the Gulf Oil Disaster

This page will help you find just about everything you need to know as you cover the long-term effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This list is provided by The Poynter Institute and The Society of Environmental Journalists as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute, held Aug. 23-26, 2010, and funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Other partners in the workshop, designed to help reporters with the stories they will be covering months — and even years — from now, were Investigative Reporters and Editors and The Center for Environmental Communication, School of Mass Communication at Loyola University.

Find an expert


La. Universities Marine Consortium

N.C. State University

George Washington University

University of Southern Mississippi

University of Alabama

Florida State University

Texas A&M

University of California

LSU Media Center

William T. Hogarth
Dean, USF College of Marine Science
Expertise: Fisheries and fishing, marine animals and their habitats
Phone: (727) 553-3542

Eric Montie
Postdoctoral researcher, USF College of Marine Science
Expertise: Impact of chemicals on ocean life
Phone: (727) 553-1237

Ernst Peebles
Associate professor of biological oceanography, USF College of Marine Science
Expertise: Interaction among estuarine fish, zooplankton, and hyperbenthos
Phone: (727) 553-3983

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Key Resources

The Daily Glob: Gulf Oil Spill News

This Society of Environmental Journalists' website is packed with links to the latest news on the oil spill. On it, you will also find links to Tweets, experts, governmental sources and mapping sites.

Gulf Spill Clips

While all these sites offer current news on the oil spill, there may be none more immediate than the daily service of The site is underwritten by the Oil Spill Legal Alliance, a group of attorneys, environmental groups, news organizations and others who help those who have suffered losses due to the oil spill.

A picture is worth a thousand words

This blog allows anyone in the Gulf region to post photos and photo stories showing how they are affected by the oil spill. The site was established, say its creators, The Center for a Better South, to be not only informative but also cathartic for people across the South.

The Society of Environmental Journalists

This site offers links to databases, advice on FOIA requests and a listserv for seeking advice from colleagues.

The Environmental Law Institute

The Environmental Law Institute is a non-partisan think tank that publishes studies and offers free databases. The ELI makes itself available for interviews and helps put complex subject matter into context. It also publishes a newsletter, although it's more focused on scholarly articles than things journalists might find useful.

Find the oil spots and what's being done about them

A cool interactive map from Florida's State Emergency Response Team. Well, it's more than a map, it's a Geospatial Assessment Tool for Operations and Response (GATOR). Click on the dots to see the latest on the cleanup.

The government's perspective on restoring the Gulf

The official website of the U.S. Joint Incident Command is full of information that will be useful down the road, including how to help and how to get help. There are even sections on beach and boating safety.

See what the USF watchdog scientists are up to

Seems as if just when an all-clear whistle is about to be blown, scientists at The University of South Florida find conflicting globs or clouds of oil. They are sure to stay abreast of the spill long after it's become old news most places.

Filing a FOIA request? Wait. You might find it here

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service) posts the latest documents made public. It is continually adding newly released information on the spill to the page.

If you are looking for impacts on Florida

What will happen to the state's beaches, marine life, wildlife and residents as more and more time lapses between the spill and the present? The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Deepwater Horizon Response website plans to keep you informed.

What the Gulf states' top lawyers are doing

Florida's attorney general has teamed up with attorneys general in surrounding states to demand compensation to those affected by the spill from BP and other responsible parties. Check this site for the latest legal action.

How hardest-hit Louisiana is responding

When you talk about any emergency situation in Louisiana, you almost always have to think of the ways in which a hurricane would magnify the situation. That's exactly what the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness does on this website.

What BP is up to

If the main page doesn't land you on the "Gulf of Mexico Response," use the tab at the top to go there. You'll find lots of good information if you search through the site. And one thing's for sure, this site will stay up-to-date long after most sites have moved on.

The EPA monitors more than just the effects on water

As more and more oil is collected, the question of where it's deposited could become a real issue. The official U.S. EPA website looks at this as well as the environmental impact on the water, beaches and the air.

What's safe to eat from the Gulf

Here is where you can keep an eye on whether the oil spill is compromising the safety of seafood coming out of the Gulf. This site's mission is to link the food we eat to our bodies, our communities, the economy and the health of the world we leave to our children. Poke around on the site and you'll find some of those stories are about the food coming out of the Gulf.

The Endangered Species & Wetlands Report

This is a paid-subscription publication but has some valuable links provided free. If you or your news organization can afford it, it provides not only immensely helpful information on current topics but also back issues that can help you get the history or context on current topics.


Reporting the Oil Disaster: Beyond the Surface & Spill

The Poynter Institute's NewsU Webinar
From the Gulf to your dinner table. See how the effects of the oil disaster connect to your community.

Critical Tools for the Non-Traditional Journalist

The Poynter Institute
Learn what it takes to make a blog, online community site or niche digital publication successful. This seminar is for citizens who want to make a difference via the web.

SEJ 20th Annual Conference

Tours will include Glacier, a Superfund extravaganza, the research navy on the West’s largest freshwater lake, and the environmental programs of one of Montana’s seven Indian reservations
Oct. 13-17, 2010
Missoula, Montana