Internews' Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and the Pacific Island News Association (PINA), with the support of the Waitt Institute, convened a three-day webinar series on ocean reporting for Pacific journalists on March 28th, March 31st, and April 4th, 2022.
The virtual media workshop, entitled “Strengthening Ocean Reporting”, hosted over 40 journalists from the Pacific Islands, who were interested in improving their capacity to report on threats to marine ecosystems and covering measures to protect the oceans and manage marine resources sustainably.
Imelda Abaño, EJN Senior Coordinator for the Philippines and Pacific Region, highlighted the need to equip journalists with these specific reporting skills, especially those who hail from small island nations.
“Journalists in the Pacific Islands love to report about the ocean as it’s a subject they care about. However, in-depth stories on the ocean remain rare. So, it is important to support better coverage of marine issues and clearly explain matters that have direct impact on the ocean,” said Abaño — for instance, better coverage of coastal erosion, pollution, unsound fishing practices and ocean governance is crucial, she said.
As part of the media training, participants learned more about marine protection, blue economy and sustainable fisheries topics shared by Dr Angus Friday, Blue Economy Director at the Waitt Institute, Dr Kathyrn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute, and Mereseini Totoka, Communications Officer for Fiji’s Office of the Ocean Commissioner.
Dr Katy Soapi, an ocean scientist from the Pacific Community in Fiji, emphasized the need to not only report the science but balance the reporting by centering the everyday lived struggles of Pacific people that depend on the ocean and its resources.
Stanley Simpson, Director of Mai TV, shared similar sentiments, drawing from his personal experience and coverage of grassroot communities.
Participants were also instructed how to cultivate sources in the Pacific through presentations by Nanette Wooton, Acting Communications and Outreach Advisor for the Secretariat of the Pacific’s Regional Environment Programme, Leilani Reklai, a journalist and head of the Palau Media Council, and Shayna Brody, Director of Media and Communications for the Waitt Institute. The session complemented another led by Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, Environment Weekly Editor, who shared several reporting tips with journalists.
In addition, the workshop introduced participants to strategies on how to strengthen their presence and expand their audiences on social media, facilitated by Amrita Gupta, EJN Editor and Content Officer, Hannah Bernstein, EJN Program Associate, and Tiffany Ngo, Communications Manager at the Waitt Institute.
Harrison Selmen, a freelance journalist from Vanuatu, said he found the workshop and skills training was very useful, and he hopes to incorporate the suggestions he received in his work.
“The workshop was really good. It unpacked a lot of things, especially seeing the lack of reporting on ocean as a whole, although we have to depend on our ocean resources so much. I was impressed with the session on social media. The techniques and how to keep your audience engaged will be beneficial especially for those of us who want to be content creators,” he said.
Participants were encouraged to apply for EJN story grants to report on the oceans in the Pacific (the last date to apply is April 30). They also received guidance on how to cover relevant upcoming events, in particular the Our Ocean Conference planned for April 2022 in Koror, Palau and the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal taking place in June.
“I hope that by strengthening reporting on the ocean in the Pacific, we see an increase in the quantity and quality on the coverage of ocean issue,” said EJN’s Abaño.
Banner image: Typical village huts by the seaside in north Tarawa, Kiribati / Credit: Jopolopy via Flickr.