Journalism professors produce documentary on South Florida sea level rise

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts sea levels in South Florida will rise from three to seven inches by the year 2030 and from nine to 24 inches by the year 2060. Such changes would mean daunting challenges for South Florida communities to stay habitable. This theme is explored in the documentary, “South Florida’s Rising Seas,” produced by FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) professors Kate MacMillin, an award-winning TV producer, and Juliet Pinto, a journalism associate professor whose research focuses on environmental communication.

“We could not be more pleased with the documentary produced by our two professors with the intent of informing the South Florida community of such an important topic as is sea-level rise. They did an outstanding job of going deep into a subject that is often misunderstood but that is a reality for our area,” said SJMC Dean Raul Reis.

Shot on location in South Florida, the half-hour production deals with the subject of sea level rise with vivid video and interviews with geologists, engineers, lawyers, community leaders and environmental activists. The documentary explains sea level rise, its potential threat to South Florida and what is being done about it.

“We are one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impacts of rising seas, and so as communicators we felt that this was an important topic that we could present as a visual narrative,” said Pinto.

WPBT2 contributed animations designed by Norman Silva to the documentary. The network will air the documentary for the first time on Jan. 15, at 8 p.m.

Local award-winning composer Dan Gralick designed the music, and summa cum laude SJMC graduate Jonathan Shaffer was the associate producer and editor.

“It was a labor of love and a challenge to make this complicated topic visual. We are grateful for the partnerships that allowed us to make this production a reality,” said MacMillin.

“South Florida Rising Seas” will be followed by a half-hour roundtable discussion moderated by Helen Ferré and featuring John Englander, author of “High Tide on Main Street”; Dr. Hal Wanless, chair of the University of Miami Department of Geological Sciences; Richard Grosso, director of the Environmental & Land Use Law Clinic and professor of law at Nova Southeastern University; and Pinto. The half-hour documentary will air again on Jan. 22 from 7:30-8 p.m.