On March 16-17, 19 journalists from three states and one federal territory in Malaysia attended a training workshop on environmental journalism in Selangor. The training, entitled ‘Beyond Event-Centered Environmental Reporting: Identifying Trends, Threats and Solutions’, was jointly organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and Internews Malaysia, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the European Union.
The journalists – both full-time and freelance – represented 11 local and regional media organizations, a range of different beats and news platforms. An environmental activist and a mentee from Internews’ Suara Masyarakat’s Mobile Journalism Citizen Media program also attended.
The workshop featured trainers and speakers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Dubai:
- Agoeng Wijaya Soedjito (Managing Editor, Tempo Magazine Indonesia)
- Wong Siew Lyn (freelance writer and editor, Macaranga)
- Law Yao-Hua, (freelance science journalist, editor and writer, Macaranga)
- Nadiah Rosli (freelance journalist and Project Director Internews in Malaysia)
- Ian Yee (Executive Director of the Environmental Reporting Collective & Co-Founder of The Fourth)
- Richa Syal (freelance journalist and Environmental Reporting Collective Core Team Member)
The trainers encouraged participants to look beyond disparate news-making events and natural disasters to consider a more sustained reporting approach. They were invited to recognize and reflect on cross-sectoral themes in their reporting. During the workshop, participants discussed how, for instance, stories on politics and the economy, science and data pieces, cross-border and investigative stories and reporting on women, vulnerable communities and culture all intersect with environmental stories.
Over two days, participants sought to identify alternative sources and under-reported environmental issues. They were provided key tools and resources to improve the quality of environmental reporting in Malaysia.
One participant, Liza Mokhtar, a general news reporter from Sinar Harian, said she felt overwhelmed at first, as environmental journalism is not her beat. That soon changed. “Thanks to this course, I am now intrigued to pursue this line of reporting. My only wish is that the course could be extended because two days is not enough to learn all the cool stuff about environmental reporting,” she said, adding that the trainers were helpful and shared their knowledge and experience freely.
Azaman Bin Awang, a broadcast journalist and local stringer from TV3 in Sandakan, Sabah stated, “As a new journalist, this training provided a lot of knowledge that will benefit me in my assignments.”
Lancelot Theseira, a journalist from The Vibes, found the session on data journalism particularly illuminating. “The speaker provided us with both insight and useful resources on where to find the necessary data. I highly recommend this workshop for budding reporters as it puts you in the right mindset and sets you up with the right tools to tackle environmental issues with accuracy and sensitivity,” he said.
The next day, several participants joined an optional field trip to the Orang Asli (OA) or Indigenous village in Serendah, Selangor, organized by Native Discovery, a community-based tourism enterprise. Journalists went on a three-hour hike through the forests with Temuan guides and enjoyed a delicious lunch and cooking experience using traditional OA methods and native ingredients.
Later this month, four participants will be awarded story grants of EUR1,900 each.
In May, Internews and EJN will share a report on the current state of environmental journalism in Malaysia with newsrooms around the country. The report will be based on a roundtable, organized prior to the media training. The session was attended by 12 editors and journalists from nine media organisations, many of whom went on to lead the training workshop.
Sim Kok Eng Amy, Internews’ Senior Asia Program Manager said, “EJN is excited to work with Malaysian journalists to boost environmental reporting. We hope this training workshop has inspired journalists to pursue stories that help explain and investigate the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and other environmental concerns, and the solutions that can address them.”
Nadiah Rosli, the Project Director for Internews in Malaysia, added: “By guiding participants to develop their story ideas, journalists will be better equipped to write impactful local environmental stories, regardless of their beats. The training also helped them to share experiences, exchange information and form networks which we hope will foster more cross-state collaborations to cover under-reported environmental issues in the country.”
Check out the EJN website for future updates on the grantees’ stories and the report, which will identify bottlenecks faced by newsrooms in Malaysia to produce quality environmental reporting in the country and offer suggestions on the kind of support needed to improve the standard of environmental coverage.
Banner image: Workshop organizer Nadiah Rosli presents in front of the room / Credit: Nabillah Hijazu.