“Our Land” is a monthly environmental series that airs on our longstanding public affairs series “New Mexico in Focus.” It is actually the only broadcast series dedicated to covering environmental issues in the state and one of the few in the region. Topics covered on the show range from climate change in New Mexico, to impacts of the Border Wall on local wildlife, water planning issues, the importance of urban forests and how to create your own backyard wildlife refuge. The series is a terrific way to get us out of the studio and into the outdoor spaces and places that make New Mexico such a unique and diverse state.
Our Land has quickly grown into much more than just a once a month report on New Mexico in Focus, though. Several of our episodes have also been turned into PBS Learning Media modules, and our Education and Outreach department has started centering some of their monthly public Science Café events around these pieces as well. The series has also expanded into a robust weekly newsletter that has more than 500 subscribers and an open rate of 54% (more than 25% higher than the industry average).
During the last year, we also launched social media platforms for the series on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. All of them are performing very well, especially when it comes to engagement. We hope to build on that momentum with more virtual and in person discussions and gatherings, once the COVID-19 pandemic allows. These channels have also helped us to connect to entirely different audiences. Our web analytics show 62% of our Instagram followers are under the age of 55, and those numbers are reflected in the demographics of our other social media channels as well.
In addition, our work with this series landed us one of the first ever Frontline local investigation grants, where we uncovered the impacts of PFAS contamination in the groundwater near a handful of military installations in New Mexico. That project has won a slew of awards, including a first place in the extended coverage in the 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies Award. It has also brought increased attention to a hugely underreported issue in New Mexico and one that touches on a variety of issue, including our state’s ongoing dependence on federal money, despite the potentially devastating affects of military activity in our state dating back to the creation of the atomic bomb at White Sands Missile Range in the 1940s.