Developing strong journalists: Lessons learned from EJN's mentoring program in Latin America

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Earth Journalism Network, Costa Rica

The Earth Journalism Network’s (EJN) mentoring program gives me the opportunity to work with talented journalists at all levels, not only to produce valuable information, but also to create different journalism projects and alliances of impact.

Two of the journalists under the program, Valeria Román from Costa Rica and Estefanía León from Peru, are part of a group of young professionals called La Ruta del Clima. They are a multidisciplinary group that is very active on climate change, and organize and participate in a variety of activities and events, including international climate change summits. Both are journalism students.

Estefanía hosts a weekly radio program in Peru called “Soy Verde,” produced by former and current students from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Together, we are working to identify strong experts on climate change to be interviewed as part of the program, which airs every Tuesday.

In addition to Valeria Román and other young professionals from La Ruta del Clima, we are working with prominent Costa Rican journalist Cynthia Calderón to create a radio magazine on climate change for Radio U, which is part of the University of Costa Rica´s national media system. Valeria is in charge of organizing and conducting the studio interviews, and Cynthia is the producer and host of the radio magazine. In conjunction with La Ruta del Clima, the Communication Alliance on Climate Change for Latin America (LatinClima) – which I coordinate – and other media at the University of Costa Rica, such as Channel 15 and Semanario Universidad (a weekly newspaper), are working together to plan each program. They are contributing information, sources and questions for the interviews, bringing a critical interdisciplinary point of view to the radio magazine. The radio’s main audience is students and young professionals in Costa Rica.

The program, called Gaia, will be launched at the end of October. It will be aired on Sundays at 11am in Costa Rica.

Another project is being run by Diego Arguedas, a talented young Costa Rican journalist, who is a correspondent for Inter Press Service and also works for Semanario Universidad. He is working on a climate change data microsite that will be launched at the end of October.

EJN´s mentoring program is also launching an initiative to link climate change experts with 24 promising Latin American journalists from 11 countries. These participants were chosen to participate in this program from the quality of their work and expressed interest in climate change reporting. This program is being produced through an alliance with ConexiónCOP and El Árbol, two well known organizations in Latin America that are working to improve communications on climate change. Journalists will participate in monthly virtual sessions with renowned experts to gain key insight and deep understanding of challenges, impacts and opportunities in climate change reporting. This program is taking place from September to January and journalists will receive a participation certificate at the end of the program.

All of these efforts have taken a lot of time and preparation, but we expect that the final outcome will be strong, sustainable journalism projects with great impact in Latin America.