Online Media Exposes Ecology Stories: Welcome to the Ecopaparazzi Web site Meet Jeannette McDermott, an ecology activist 27 June 2009 GreenMuze.com 1. Paparazzi (photographers who take candid pictures of celebrities) are pretty much universally thought of as an irritant at best, and absolute scum at worst. They are relentless in their pursuit, they intrude, spy, reveal, expose and shame. There is no privacy from the prying eyes of the paparazzi, but imagine if the Earth had a team of paparazzi working for her, a team of Ecopaparazzi traveling the globe, documenting and exposing the relentless damage to the Earth. 2. Meet Jeanette McDermott, one of the world’s unknown eco-heroines and founder of Ecopaparazzi web site. Ecopaparazzi is an online media portal for eco journalists working to expose the environmental stories that the mainstream media ignores — bear bile farming, corrupt development, deforestation, illegal trade in wildlife species’ poaching and the list, unfortunately, goes on and on. What is an Ecopaparazzi exactly? 3. The name Ecopaparazzi is used because they don't stalk celebrities in the sense of the word paparazzi, but they do stalk Earth abusers. They look for corrupt and greedy governments, corporate leaders, land developers and others who are responsible for destructive practices that negatively impact all Earth beings that need clean air, water and uncontaminated soil to grow and/or browse for food. 4. When we discover who is behind the destructive, and often-illegal activity, in our communities, we take photographs to document the assaults so we can have impact in rallying others to stand against the destruction. We also look at how environmental issues are related, like poaching and poverty and human overpopulation and deforestation. As every paparazzi knows, you are not always successful with the camera. Sometimes we're forced out of places by armed security guards, local police and ferocious dogs. The Ecopaparazzi web site 5. Ecopaparazzi was created after Jeannette McDermott and her friend Nancy traveled to the once-isolated coastal and rainforest communities of Costa Rica to document the shocking horrors of unplanned development. Nancy drove, and Jeannette repeatedly jumped out of the car to snap photos and roll off video footage of what they witnessed. At one point it became ludicrous. There was so much damage to the natural landscape that Jeannette was unbuckling and hopping out of the car every fifty yards to record the damage. Her antics tickled Nancy and she said something like, "You're like the paparazzi, but instead of stalking celebrities you stalk Earth abusers. And in that second, a new idea was born and a week later the web site Ecopaparazzi.com was up and running on running. 6. Politicians and developers don't like people to learn about the unplanned, and often illegal construction, because the stories typically include dirty little secrets, like kickbacks and bribes. Citizen journalists and environmental watchdog activists have to step in to be the voice of change. 7. For example, last year “eco warriors” (environmental activists) began sounding the cry that Costa Rica's most coveted beach front and third most popular tourist destination spot had dangerous fecal concentrations. This announcement resulted in widespread shock and panic. Swimmers and surfers fled the sea, visitors panicked and packed up, and even banks re-evaluated construction loans, spelling disaster and a potential market crash. In another incident, when citizen journalists and community activists made village residents aware that the developers were tapping into their local water supply to siphon it to irrigate monstrous golf courses and flush thousands of toilets used by tourists, it led to a full-blown citizen revolt. 8. The actions of citizen journalists, “eco warriors” and community activists resulted in 40 large-scale development sites being slapped with cease and desist construction orders, which are now pending in the Costa Rican courts. The voice for Mother Earth needs forums for getting the word out, and social media sites like Ecopaparazzi.com can serve that role. What types of stories are published on Ecopaparazzi.com? 9. The eco-stories featured in Ecopaparazzi are both horrific and uplifting. The eco journalists focus on the damage and the people who are working to solve the problems. But we also have a feature called What We're Doing Right, which showcases innovative approaches to Earth healing. And they feature Eco-Active Celebrities, who are the members in their network that are contributing to Earth healing. 10. Ecopaparazzi also has a column for eco-education, economy and environment, the global food movement, wake-up calls that sound the alarm, and eco-scribbles, which are musings from our members in diary-like form. Why is a site like Ecopaparazzi needed? 11. Jeanette went to a peace activist rally a few months ago and saw a fabric patch that she bought. It says "Don't blame the media, become the media." That's the reality. It is true that the pen is mightier than the sword. Sites like Ecopaparazzi remind people that they are the media, and that they have the power to change the world just by getting involved, even if it's taking one photograph or uploading one poster onto a Facebook profile to bring an issue to light. Sites like Ecopaparazzi are needed sites as a place to tell stories, because stories are what connect us as a community of humans. 12. Secondly, having sites like Ecopaparazzi lets government and industry know that people are watching. They are paying attention. Their eyes are open, and they have cameras, mobile phones and computers to spread the word virally about who is making wrong choices and acting badly. Equally important, sites like Ecopaparazzi provide a forum for telling the stories about people who are doing the right thing. 13. Finally, Ecopaparazzi is a gathering spot for like-minded people who care deeply about issues affecting our planet. Sometimes they need the support of others who know what it is like to be David up against Goliath, and they need to find encouragement and share strategies to motivate, inspire and spur them ever onward. What is the most shocking eco-story Jeanette has covered? 14. Jeanette has reported on many shocking human activities in nature. It's hard to fathom sometimes just how cruel humans can be toward other Earth Beings and creation itself. But the most shocking eco story she has covered is Mountaintop Removal, where coal companies blow up entire 330-million year old mountains in Appalachia to get the seams of coal. 15. The wildlife can't read the blasting signs that have been posted, and are unaware of the dynamite that has been set into the mountain, so they stay and are blown to bits. The few that might survive such destruction are suddenly homeless with no food, shelter or water, and so they wander, dazed and often injured from the dynamite explosion. 16. Resulting soil erosion contaminates local water supplies and turns once thriving aquatic ecosystems into dead seas. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) is one of the most despicable practices on Earth. 17. But even more shocking than Mountaintop Removal is another top-ranking vile human practice — Bear bile farming. This is a practice in China, Vietnam and Korea, where bears are locked in crush cages no larger than their bodies for up to 25 years, until they die, so that their bile can be drained for non-essential products. This involves an excruciatingly painful procedure that leads to unfathomable suffering and agony for the bears. Bear farmers often rip out claws and break the bear's teeth — without anesthesia or medical treatment for infection and illness — so they can approach the cages without fear of being hurt. In Jeanette’s opinion, Bear bile farming is the cruelest and abhorrent human action perpetrated against another sentient species. Are people becoming more environmentally aware? 18. Without a doubt. However, it seems that most people are staying in safe waters. They are becoming aware of energy use of home appliances, shopping fair trade, and recycling but don't know much about the perils of the meat industry or commercial fishing, hidden costs of alternative energy or bio-piracy and seed modification. So, on the one hand, there is greater awareness within the general public about the overall state of affairs of the environment. But on the other hand, there isn't much awareness at all about causes and effects of specific issues. 19. So, you see ... we are becoming aware and we are staying in the dark. Without citizen journalism, the most important issues will remain hidden from public view. Social media networks give us a platform for sharing thoughts, raising questions and sounding the alarm to wake each other up. Questions 1. What two types of paparazzi are contrasted in paragraph 1? Complete the sentence: Those who _____________________________________, in contrast to those _____________________________________________________. 2. What does the list at the end of paragraph 2 illustrate? ______________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________ 3. Corrupt governments and land developers are examples of ___________________ ________________.(2 words) 4. (Paragraph 4) What is the purpose of an Ecopaparazzi photographing the assaults of nature? a. to document the assaults for future generations b. to discover who stands behind the illegal activity of destroying the nature c. to provide visual proof which will inspire other people to protest the destroying nature d. to immediately punish the people behind the destruction and illegal activity being documented 5. We can understand that citizen journalists and environmentalists publicize the effects of damaging development, because ______________________________ don't do so. This is because they are afraid of exposure of _______________________________. 6. Paragraph 8: "…social media sites like Ecopaparazzi.com can serve that role." Which role does the author mean? ___________________________________________________ 7. Paragraph 9. “The eco-stories featured in Ecopaparazzi are both horrific and uplifting.” Give ONE example of the latter: ________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ 8. (paragraphs 11-13) Which of the following are NOT reasons for the existence of Ecopaparazzi web site? Check (3) three. ____ to feature stories and photographs from Facebook ____ to refute the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. ____ to remind people to upload a picture or a poster onto the Ecopaparazzi site. ____ to remind governments that someone is watching their activity ____ to bring people who care about the environment together 9. What is common to Mountaintop Removal and Bear bile farming? Complete the sentence Both are ________________________________ (no more than 5 words) 10. Complete the following sentence, showing the contrast presented in para 18. Whereas the public seems to be aware of the environmental issues in general, ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ 11, What might be the cause for the fact that “we are staying in the dark”? Complete the sentence with TWO words The lack of ______________________ ____________________. 12, The main purpose of this text is: a. to show the advantages and disadvantages of the Ecopaparazzi activity b. to provide information about the Ecopaparazzi activity and raise people’s awareness of environmental issues. c. to show that citizen journalism can raise people’s awareness and solve important social issues d. to help people become the Ecopaparazzi members by meeting with other Ecopaparazzi members.