Dialogue Earth, a Minnesota-based nonprofit environmental media project, is sponsoring a series of energy-related video contests this summer.

The goal of Dialogue Earth is “to increase public understanding on timely issues related to the environment by delivering engaging, trustworthy multimedia content to large, diverse audiences.” The effort has strong media credentials, including three veterans of Internet Broadcasting, a St. Paul-based company that provides web services to TV networks.

The contest, or “media challenge,” is intended to create engaging content around what can be a dry, wonky topic. As a test, organizers conducted a pilot project to see what they’d get.

If the entries from the pilot contest aren’t exactly earth-shattering. Take, for example, this well-done but elementary look at the electricity grid, starring two talking mice:

YouTube video

Hardly rocket science. But it’s cute and funny. Can the approach work for heavier topics?

The broader effort promises to dig a little more deeply, for instance, addressing life-cycle costs of different energy sources and advantages of distributed energy. And the videos are intended to provide factual, baseline information, not advocate for one solution over another.

I’d submit that the problem we face in media isn’t so much a lack of reliable information, but a preponderance of misinformation that leads policymakers to rely on false narratives when making decisions.

On the other hand, there’s absolutely no harm in further, fact-based exploration of energy topics, especially if it’s done in a way that is engaging and accessible. It’s an intriguing experiment, and I look forward to seeing and sharing the results.

The first contest begins in July.

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.