Denton writer breaks boundaries between geography and journalism

Denton writer breaks boundaries between geography and journalism

October 05
20:07 2014

Matthew Brown / Intern Writer

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Fort Worth Weekly’s 2013 critic’s choice for best print journalist in DFW, currently writing for the Denton Record Chronicle,  discussed investigative journalism, shale drilling, and how she became a journalist Friday in the Environmental Science Building.

Heinkel-Wolfe began by describing her background with music theory and mathematics and how they helped her as a journalist.

“I learned to adapt math and logic tools that could help tackle topics that I think other people might think are impossible,” Heinkel-Wolfe said. “Shale drilling is definitely one of those.”

Heinkel-Wolfe wrote a four-part series in fall 2007 on natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale and its connection to Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material. These articles revealed a number of issues involving drilling, cleanup, and the disposal of NORM. Heinkel-Wolfe quantified the amount of waste produced in different locations, something no one had previously done.

“She definitely contributed to the geography side and current events [with] her journalism,” journalism student Anna Barden said.

Heinkel-Wolfe discussed how she found leads and breaks in her stories, in one instance discovering that trucks were dumping contaminated water into creeks.

“I was reading a small newspaper and the fire chief had put out a plea to people to watch for water trucks, they had some trouble with drivers dumping in creeks,” Heinkel-Wolfe said.

The lecture’s audience was comprised mostly of journalism and geography students. Heinkel-Wolfe worked to help each group better understand how to interact with counterparts in each other’s fields.

“I had no idea how journalism might work,” geography professor Lorna Curran said. “It was interesting to hear how she had to investigate and talk to all these different people.”

Following the lecture, Heinkel-Wolfe fielded questions from the audience, including the state of journalism and what people can do to keep news fresh. Heinkel-Wolfe stressed that readers should not merely read their local paper online for free.

“Pay for your journalism,” Heinkel-Wolfe urged the audience. “If you want good journalism, subscribe to a paper.”

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