London Event Marks 10th Anniversary of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network

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Internews, London, UK

The Internews Earth Journalism Network (EJN) celebrated ten years of operation with an event in London that featured a lively panel discussion focusing on the challenges facing environmental journalism and prospects for the future.

EJN Executive Director James Fahn outlined some of EJN’s achievements over the last decade, including registering over 4,500 members from more than 120 countries, training over 3,300 journalists, and producing over 4,500 stories during its activities alone. Fahn also described some of the policy impacts of these activities, including saving Vietnam’s Tam Dao National Park from ruinous development, uncovering a wildlife smuggling ring, and the shelving of the controversialMyitsone Dam in Burma.

Panelist Mona Samari was particularly complimentary of EJN’s grants program, which gives out grants averaging around $10,000 to support local networks and training of environmental journalists in countries around the world. “I hope that EJN is able to continue its small grant program,” said Samari, the founder of the Tunisian Environmental Reporters Network. “Even if it’s not a lot of money, it’s incredibly useful to set up networks, as we did through website Nawaat, and just let journalists know they’re not alone.”

Alex Kirby, a long-time correspondent for the BBC World Service, extolled the need for projects such as the Climate Change Media Partnership, which since 2007 has brought local journalists from around the world to cover the UNFCCC climate summits. He also lamented the state of climate reporting in Britain where, he said, “the BBC is now motivated by fear and the private media by greed,” resulting in the portrayal of “false balance” when it comes to climate issues. Kirby now helps to run the Climate News Network, an agency which provides daily stories that can be picked up for free.

Navin Khadka, a multimedia and multi-lingual environmental correspondent for the BBC emphasized the importance of translation in getting stories picked up. A lot of environmental reports only come out in English, he noted, but journalists in other countries are much more likely to cover them when they’re also available in other languages.

Finally, Mike Shanahan, the press officer for the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a long-time partner with EJN and a founder of the CCMP, urged journalists who cover the environment to join the EJNet listserve, a lively e-mail group where members exchange vital tips and information on how to cover environmental issues.

EJN will be marking its ten year anniversary with events throughout 2014.