Biodiversity Media Initiative to expand coverage of critical environmental issues

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Internews, Washington DC

The biodiversity crisis doesn’t get the headlines it deserves. Habitat loss, overhunting and now climate change threaten wild species across the planet. Scientists warn that the rapid loss of biodiversity our planet is currently facing will have dire effects for humanity, particularly for people who live closest to and depend most directly on nature.

The challenge of balancing human needs with environmental integrity is huge. The media has a role to play in raising awareness of these issues and enabling citizens, policymakers and private companies to debate and implement solutions. However, current media coverage of biodiversity and conservation is limited.

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network aims to address this with a new project, the Biodiversity Media Initiative, funded by the Arcadia Fund, that will offer journalists three opportunities each year for the next three years.

First, biodiversity media grants will strengthen the capacity of journalism networks and media organizations to report on biodiversity and conservation issues. An international panel of judges reviewed the 34 applications received from around the world, and ended up choosing three projects:

  • The creation of a Bolivian Amazon Journalists Network, with capacity-building workshops for members;
  • A project by the South African Science Journalists’ Association that will focus on the protection of biodiversity on private property, a greatly under-studied subject; and
  • A project by the Environmental Information and Education Center to support journalistic reporting of nature conservation in Georgia, a country with high biodiversity but little media coverage of it.

Second, biodiversity story grants, will support the production of stories that investigate new threats to biodiversity, as well as innovative, potentially-scalable conservation solutions. EJN received 136 applications for this year’s story grants, out of which we could only choose six recipients.

“The overwhelming response we received for these story grants shows there is huge interest from journalists to cover these issues,” says Mike Shanahan, EJN’s Biodiversity Media Coordinator. “We’re pleased we’re able to support some of them, but really a lot more support is needed.”

Third, biodiversity fellowships will enable journalists to attend and report on major international conferences with a focus on biodiversity and conservation. Funding for this year’s Fellowships to the IUCN World Conservation Congress will also be supplemented by a grant in support of indigenous journalists provided by the Full Circle Fund of RSF Social Finance.

A call for applications to the Fellowships program will be announced soon.