Grants Help Local Organizations Boost Their Environmental Reporting Skills and Reach

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Earth Journalism Network, Washington, DC

The quality of environmental journalism and the strength of environmental journalism organizations were boosted by the awarding of five grants in 2014 by the Internews Earth Journalism Network (EJN) to groups in Nigeria, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Brazil and Mongolia.

Nigeria

The Development Communications Network trained environment journalists to use tools such as data wrapper, JEO WordPress template -- a GeoJournalism platform which allows news organizations, bloggers and NGOs to publish news stories as layers of information on digital maps -- Google fusion and other mapping tools to report on environment issues in Nigeria

The participants also discussed topical issues in environment reporting and formed the Network of Environment Journalists in Nigeria under EJN's umbrella with a mission "To ensure a safe and healthy environment through effective communication, engagements and technological applications to stir up actions for change." 

Bulgaria

BlueLink created a "Virtual Newsroom," an operational not-for-profit journalism network. A designated web space for quality journalism stories entitled Evromegdan.bg was designed and launched by BlueLink during the project's implementation period, using matching project funding from the European Economic Area NGOs Grant Support Program for Bulgaria.

A key partnership for the success of the project was established with students and young journalists – founders and members of Reaktsia Radio – a web based radio channel, hosted by the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communications at Sofia University.

Bluelink reported that activities seeded with this grant have initiated continued work beyond the scope of EJN's funding, including a roundtable in November on quality journalism.

Pakistan

Pakistan's National Council of Environmental Journalists (NCEJ) focused their project on strengthening their network via the recruitment of new membership through training. NCEJ held 10 training workshops (classroom and field training) on the most crucial environmental issues – particularly those pertaining to water threats – facing Pakistan.  This series of trainings resulted in over 70 published stories and initiated a redesign of the NCEJ's official website, transforming it into an information hub for environmental journalists and a repository for stories produced as the result of the trainings.

Following these changes, a mainstream Pakistani private Urdu language television channel Abb Takk contacted NCEJ and asked to sign an agreement with Abb Takk under which they will broadcast video and print stories from NCEJ's new website, The Nature News (TNN), shared on their official website.

Brazil

A grant was provided to O Eco, a leading pioneer in the burgeoning GeoJournalism movement, to facilitate the creation of CartoChaco, the first multimedia journalistic and data hub of information about the Chaco, a four-country region in South America that has seen a great surge of deforestation caused by agricultural activities and cattle ranching. 

An alliance of organizations launched CartoChaco in July. The site uses richly designed maps powered by satellite data and journalistic stories to reveal the impacts of natural resources exploitation in this part of South America. CartoChaco's multidisciplinary team of researchers, cartographers, developers and journalists have the goal of creating a community of experts, media and citizens involved in the conservation of the Gran Chaco.

Mongolia

According to the World Health Organization, Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar is the world's second most polluted city, yet in-depth coverage of the public health threat this pollution poses is lacking.

To strengthen Mongolia's network of environmental journalists, the Press Institute of Mongolia (PIM) used EJN's grant to hold a series of education and training programs for both professional and student journalists on the issue of air pollution, its environmental and health impacts, and first-hand data collection using available sensor technology.

The EJN grants program, now in its third year, was created as a mechanism to respond the needs of the EJN's community of environmental journalists. With a focus on building the capacities of local networks and their members, EJN is able to cultivate and expand its network of partners by working with local journalists in their native languages. In most cases, grantees create self-sustaining local institutions that can provide their members with long-term capacity-building programs and the kind of clout that comes by working as a coherent group.