The environmental journalism Sydney-(out)sider
In his ABC-published piece headlining “Queensland company lodges plan to build Australia’s biggest solar farm near Gympie,” Bruce Atkinson informs readers about a major project occurring in south-east Queensland. Atkinson divides the article into two parts; the first is concerned primarily with the size of the project while the second briefly discusses government and financial roles.
Atkinson stresses the project’s impact on energy supply in the area around Gympie, citing that the solar farm would have the capacity to power about 315,000 homes, making it the largest facility in Australia. Clearly, the project’s size is the main point Atkinson is trying to get across, implying how it could put Australia in a global spotlight.
However, it seemed Atkinson’s focus on size distracts from a larger message concerning what solar energy’s benefits are. The article would have been a lot more effective if he had incorporated the environmental impacts the project will have rather than how it’s size will gain attention.
Atkinson also interviewed some great sources, making his piece very reliable. However, it seemed like he could have gotten more information and some better quotes out of his interviewees, considering their credibility. For instance, he quoted John Grimes, the chief executive of the Australian Solar Council, saying “In global terms, an 800 megawatt solar farm is very significant.”
But why? The entire piece seemed to be a repetition of the fact that the solar farm will be significant without much environmental evidence to support it.
The second half of Atkinson’s article touched on the funding behind the project, which he said was primarily driven through private investors. Yet, after discussing the size of the project through the entire first half of the piece, mentioning that the entire facility would cost $2 billion, it seemed like more than one sentence about funding should have been included.
Furthermore, Atkinson mentioned the remaining council and state approvals needed in order to finalize plans, but did not go into any specifics. From a journalistic perspective, Atkinson should have either discussed something more pressing about the project, such as environmental repercussions as mentioned earlier, or provided more information on what still needed to be approved. Perhaps there was something holding company and town planners back from proceeding, which may have been a more interesting angle to take on the issue.
Overall, Atkinson’s piece did a good job of providing surface-level facts. As a news story, it did its job. However, with a little more research, the piece had the potential of providing so much more than it did.