Internews’ Earth Journalism Network marked its 15th year of supporting environmental reporting earlier this month with a small celebratory event in London and a panel discussion featuring some of the top thinkers and practitioners in the field. Together with our members, partners, friends and grantees around the world, we reflected on the many ground-breaking environmental media projects aimed at boosting the quality and quantity of environmental news coverage we’ve supported over the last decade and a half.
The audience at the London event, which took place on October 2nd, first heard some introductory remarks from Internews Europe Interim CEO Rosie Parkyn and then watched a new video featuring snippets and symbols of environmental hope contributed by our members and partners. The panel discussion that followed looked at the way the media has covered the issue of climate and environmental change. Leading experts on climate and environmental journalism discussed what has and hasn’t worked, what more needs to be done and the challenges and successes reporters experience when covering these crucial issues.
The panelists were:
- James Painter - Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism & the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford
- Mona Samari - Fisheries Expert, Independent Consultant & EJN Project Manager
- Navin Khadka - BBC World Service Environment Correspondent
- James Fahn - EJN Executive Director & Lecturer at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
- Mike Shanahan (Moderator) - Biodiversity Expert, Independent Consultant & EJN Project Manager
Together they broadly concluded that coverage of climate and environmental issues is slowly becoming more sophisticated, with climate change now being mentioned in stories on related topics, such as sporting events and mountaineering, and ocean sustainability issues now being reported on in stories about food and dining, for instance.
Painter noted that climate change still tends to be covered about eight times as much as biodiversity – a recent survey in Britain found that many respondents believe the term “biodiversity” refers to a brand of “washing powder” – but added that the IPBES (Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) report on biodiversity released earlier this year did get particularly good coverage, perhaps because of a good tagline warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction.
Among the other topics discussed were a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its exposure in the media; the lack of female voices in reporting from the global south and ways to improve gender balance in the media; a change in language surrounding the biodiversity and climate change ‘crises’; and the importance of solutions-based stories in giving hope to communities.
The panel concluded with a question and answer session where the audience participated in thinking about the future of environmental media coverage and also how the Earth Journalism Network could evolve to provide audiences with the information they need.