Small Grants Recipients Use EJN Awards to Strengthen Networks, Reporting

,

Earth Journalism Network, Global

DataFracking, Claves21's new fracking data portal.

 

Having trained over 450 journalists and produced at least 250 stories, this year’s Earth Journalism Network’s latest group of grantees – hailing from Tunisia, Argentina, the Central African Republic and the Philippines – can boast of numerous achievements in a short period of time, with still more to come.

As part of its long-standing commitment to foster communities of environmental journalists where the need is urgent but resources are limited, in 2012 EJN launched a Grants Program that awarded five outstanding recipients a combined $50,000 to carry out projects aimed at building and strengthening such networks around the world. Earlier this year, EJN selected a second group of grantees who have tallied up numerous accomplishments over the last eight months.

Here’s a quick look at what this year’s grantees have accomplished so far:

Central Asia

Central Asia’s Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountain range and Tibetan Plateau are the source of rivers that provide water to nearly 20 percent of the world’s population. These 1.3 billion people face frequent threats posed by flooding, water shortages, pollution, and sometimes the unintended consequences of development projects. With EJN’s support, India’s The Third Pole – a collaboration with chinadialogue led by New Delhi-based journalist Joydeep Gupta – has taken the first steps to establish new networks of environmental journalists in Bhutan and Afghanistan, translate existing EJN toolkits into Russian, and undertake the difficult work of registering as a non-profit in India, which will open doors for future funding opportunities. In addition, EJN and The Third Pole staff are currently cooperating to garner support for a new network for data sharing, collection, and visualization in the areas of climate change, water, forests, and disaster risk reduction in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.

Argentina

Claves21, an Argentinian environmental news site led by Damián Profeta and Fermin Koop, set out to unite environmental journalists and students across the country and modernize their reporting by introducing them to a host of innovative “Web 2.0” tools that include multimedia storytelling, crowd-sourced data collection, and data visualization and mapping. This month, Claves21 launched its biggest Web 2.0 initiative to date, DataFracking.com.ar, a digital platform highlighting the issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing in Argentina and around the world. Having launched their website and corresponding social media platforms this spring, Claves21 staff are now focusing on growing their network through the development of toolkits and other reporter resources, partnerships with universities, and training workshops. Claves21 has been an incredibly prolific trainer, working with over 350 journalists this year alone. 

Philippines

In the words of Imelda Abano, the president of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ), her country is a “laboratory of climate change,” vulnerable to typhoons, flooding, drought, and coastal erosion. To better communicate the needs of the populations most affected by these disasters, PNEJ designed and is now building an SMS-based news service utilizing the free and open-source tool FrontlineSMS to broadcast 160-character reports from the field to a national audience. Abano and the PNEJ launched EnviroNews in April, and held a workshop to instruct 30 journalists in how to utilize this new system. Recently, four different typhoons hit the Philippines, highlighting the need for a robust mechanism to amplify the voices of the country’s most isolated and vulnerable communities. To support EnviroNews, please see our Global Giving page.

Central African Republic

Just as environmental issues are rarely purely scientific in nature, stories of human strife are often rooted in natural resource management and ecological decline. In the Central African Republic, Thierry Khonde and the Réseau des Journalistes pour le Droit de l’Homme (Network of Journalists for Human Rights or RJDH) is exploring the nexus between conflict and environmental degradation by training 20 local journalists to articulate the roles climate, agriculture, and food security can play in the country’s ongoing political and social struggles. Ultimately, stories produced as a result of these trainings will be distributed to a network of radio stations across the country.

Tunisia

Taking a multi-pronged approach to the establishment of a new Tunisia Environmental Reporting Network (TERN), Mona Samari and colleagues have spent the year reaching out to environmental journalists across the Mediterranean; introduced a new environmental section to citizen journalism and media aggregator NAWAAT; and organized a delegation of reporters to attend April’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora conference in Bangkok, Thailand. One report written by Samari and Azza Turki, who briefly edited NAWAAT’s environmental section, was republished in outlets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including Slate Afrique, APAnews, and Middle East Online. Sadly, Turki passed away from leukemia last month, and TERN leaders are looking into setting up a Tunisia environmental reporting award in her name. In conjunction with Lebanon’s WE Magazine, TERN is finalizing the launch of WE Share, the first online platform for Tunisian and Lebanese environmental journalists. This new platform aims to facilitate the exchange of articles and skills between environment reporters in these two counties. Finally, in October, TERN and NAWAAT will be hosting the first Arab COP climate meeting, which they will live-blog throughout.