Impact of Metcalf’s Journalism Training Programs

Three people on the side of a boat, smiling
Participants in Metcalf Institute’s Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists

Since 1999, Metcalf has worked to provide journalist trainees with a deeper understanding of the research underlying major environmental challenges and solutions, while preparing them to translate the complexities of the research with nuance and context for their varied audiences. Although the Institute customarily evaluates individual programs, Metcalf undertook a first-of-its-kind assessment of long-term impacts of Metcalf Institute training for journalists. Our evaluation is ongoing, and we intend to submit our research for peer-reviewed publication later this year. To date, we have found:

  • Metcalf training amplifies scientific research. The study showed that trainees acquire a renewed sense of the importance of environment and science reporting, and feel better equipped to to report on scientific issues. The training strengthened reporting fundamentals in many ways, such as providing deeper background knowledge of issues and connecting trainees with new sources for their reporting. It also heightened trainees’ awareness of the broader impacts and importance of science journalism and affected change in their work practices.
  • Metcalf training is impactful for journalists at all career stages. Early-career participants indicated that Metcalf training provided valuable connections and confidence to move forward in their careers. Mid-career participants felt the training built on their existing foundation of skills and knowledge. 
  • Metcalf training has longevity. We found that it continues to influence trainees’ work throughout their careers. Most respondents reported that their work often or always has been positively affected by most of the key training elements. 
  • Metcalf training has clout: Institute alumni cite Metcalf training as a professional credential and find this credential to be a professional advantage, which they’ve used to obtain new jobs, pitch stories, and receive funding. 
  • Metcalf training changes careers: Trainees identified a variety of significant career impacts from Metcalf Institute training, such as new skills, knowledge, and/or interests; networks and connections; confidence; and a heightened appreciation of the value of science/environmental journalism.
  • Metcalf training builds community: Trainees identified a variety of significant societal impacts, such as changes in interpersonal interactions in newsrooms or with mentees related to leadership and mentoring, specific impacts of stories among news audiences and broader publics, and entire shifts of career.
Word cloud of all answers to the interview question, “If you had to describe your thoughts or feelings about Metcalf training in three words, what would they be?”
Word cloud of all answers to the interview question, “If you had to describe your thoughts or feelings about Metcalf training in three words, what would they be?”

The research also shows potential for new opportunities for growth, such as possible credentialing programs, trainings for those with more advanced science backgrounds, or journalists in the later stages of their careers. Overall, we’re pleased to see these early results as we continue to refine and plan our 2023 programming for journalists to be as effective, engaging, and impactful as possible. 


Metcalf’s 2022 Annual Report