“Climate Change – A Hot Topic for Media Training?”. This was one of the DW-AKADEMIE panel discussions held during Deutsche Welle’s annual Global Media Forum, focusing this year on climate change and the media.
“Let’s not make climate change a hot topic,” said Helmut Osang, head of DW-AKADEMIE’s Asia Division, and one of the five panellists. “Let’s make it cool and constant. Let’s make climate change and environmental reporting a regular, solution-oriented feature in the media and move away from environmental ‘disaster reporting’.”
Mike Shanahan, Markus Lehmkuhl and Jan Lublinski (f.l.t.r.)
Although the other panellists agreed, their training approaches vary. Science journalist and trainer Jan Lublinksi is involved in a mentoring project called SjCOOP, where 15 experienced journalists each mentor four less experienced journalists in Africa and the Middle East over a two-year period.
Mike Shanahan is co-founder of the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) which supports journalists from developing countries to learn about, attend and report on the annual two-week UN climate change negotiations. “Otherwise,” he said, “it’s mainly journalists from developed countries - and not from developing countries most affected by climate change – who do the reporting on the negotiations.” During the negotiations CCMP provides editorial support and connects the journalists to ministers and policy makers from their various countries. Last year 40 journalists from 27 countries produced approximately 500 reports for their home media within the two-week period.
Science journalist, Markus Lehmkuhl, and Steve Zwick, managing editor of the global news service Ecosystem Marketplace and calling in from Vietnam, pointed to the economics of environmental reporting. Journalists in developing countries generally receive low salaries. On a more encouraging note, business programmes and newspapers pay comparatively well for stories focusing on the financial aspects of environmental projects.
Helmut Osang stressed effective changes could only come about through media training when management, and not just the journalists alone, were convinced of the need for regular environmental reporting.
The 1.5 hour panel talk and ensuing discussion were moderated by DW-AKADEMIE project manager Jochen Walter.
This year DW-AKADEMIE is conducting environmental and climate change-related projects in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Brazil, Syria, Egypt and Russia, Macedonia and the Ukraine.