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Climate change journalism: govts, media urged to collaborate to 'save' the world

The Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) - an initiative of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Internews and Panos - last week launched a policy briefing paper that urges governments in developing countries to build strong relationships with the media to fight climate change, instead of just 'using' the media as a 'public outreach' channel for promoting their own messages.
"The fight against climate change could be won or lost on the pages of newspapers, in TV and radio broadcasts and on the Internet and mobile phones," the CCMP paper, titled "Why the media matters in a warming world: a guide for policymakers in the global south", said.

Challenges faced by journos

The CCMP acknowledges challenges faced by journalists in many developing countries to report effectively on climate change, citing lack of training, unsupportive editors and weak outreach from domestic policymakers.

The paper said policymakers can address these challenges by engaging citizens through the media, communicating with journalists and supporting a better class of climate change journalism that is relevant to local audiences, builds public awareness of the issues, and contributes to improved policy-making.

Climate change journalism would be a 'strange' terminology for some journalists in African countries, where some learning institutions and newsrooms ignore the issue altogether, and most governments are mostly preoccupied with poverty, elections issues and consolidation of power.

London-based Mike Shanahan, IIED spokesperson, told "Climate change journalism is here to stay and certainly some journalists are now specialised in reporting on this topic, and would call themselves climate change journalists.

"Climate change is just the context"

"But really, climate change is just the context in which so many other stories must now be told. This means that all journalists will need to understand how the things they report on usually are affected by (or affect) the relationship between humanity and our climate."

Shanahan added: "I think it is critical that journalism courses at African universities and schools of journalism include climate change on the curriculum so that the next generation of journalists is well-prepared to interpret the complex science and politics of climate change and make it relevant to their audiences."

The CCMP paper urges media in the global south to provide coverage that is rooted in reality by making stories locally relevant, and inclusive of otherwise marginalised voices.

The paper said recent studies of climate change conducted in South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, China, Peru and India suggest that this is not often happening.

"Direct implications for people's lives"

"Instead, the international politics of climate change tend to dominate over coverage with more direct implications for people's lives. Media reports tend to focus on differences in risk and responsibility between developed and developing nations, but make little mention of how responsibility, risk and ability to adapt vary within countries.

"One study found that more than 70% of articles on climate change in South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper over six months in 2009 and 2010 were international with no South African (nor even African) content.

Original, local stories accounted for just 6% of the climate change coverage.

"But while climate change is indeed a global phenomenon, its impacts, and many of its solutions, will be local," the paper said, adding that vernacular languages are especially poorly served when reporting on climate change.

For more, go to and download the full report in pdf format.

About Issa Sikiti da Silva: @sikitimedia

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.
Derick Poremba-Brumer
Climate change is going to cause a big re-think about the way this world operates.Governments in "developing countries" have been asked to build strong relationships with the media to fight climate change.According to the UN 'Decade of Action for Road Safety' "90% of road fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries".Why is the media not covering these two important topics?Derick Poremba-Brumer
Posted on 20 Jun 2011 17:26
David Nutzuki
I'm not the only one contacting authorities and law makers and the justice departments to have the leading scientists and NEWS EDITORS charged for this needless panic of a false war called Climate Change. We missed getting Bush. We need a Nuremberg-like Climate Crimes Trial. I suggest we all continue contacting the courthouse to have these leaders of a false war of CO2 climate crisis put in prison.
Posted on 20 Jun 2011 19:55
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