Covering Conservation: A guide for community radio broadcasters in Cameroon
The environment has become a cause for concern the world over, particularly in tropical Africa, a region vulnerable to deforestation, poaching, climate change, marine pollution, overfishing and coastal erosion.
The way the media covers these issues will affect how well communities deal with their impacts. And for Cameroonians to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks, more awareness about biodiversity and conservation is needed. Yet reporting about climate change, biodiversity and conservation in a concise and understandable way remains a major challenge.
This media guide was produced following a three-day workshop in Buea, Cameroon, aimed at enhancing radio reporters' conservation coverage. Carried out by AFRICAphonie, an organization focused on peace-building, culture and democratic development, with the support of Internews' Earth Journalism Network, the workshop trained 30 community radio broadcasters to identify, collect and disseminate in Pidgin English the best conservation practices and related issues within their communities.
In addition to providing local reporters with the tools to raise public awareness on biodiversity and conservation in Pidgin, the workshop helped educate community media about the fundamental role that an understanding of the environment plays in their work.
The media guide includes an anthology of climate change reporting tips and techniques compiled by the Pan African Media Alliance for Change (PAMACC). Those tips touch on sourcing, language and story development and include advice such as avoiding jargon and environmental advocacy, using a varity of sources and scientific data and humanizing stories to make abstract ideas real to readers.
"Media professionals cannot influence the environment directly, but they can package the facts in a logical manner and motivate individuals, citizens, politicians, and business people and policy makers to take action," writes Elias Ntungwe Ngalame, PAMACC's coordinator for the Central African region.
Following that section, journalist Arison Tamfu offers tips on how to identify conversation and biodiversity stories for community radio, providing reporters with advice on how to simplify conservation reporting for the general public.
The guide also provides a basic understanding of Cameroon's biodiversity, the threats facing the environment and the role of conservation, with sections that address mitigation measures and conservation-related legislation.