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Count the Challenges 

Source: WWF – World Wide Fund For Nature

Environmental journalists are expected to be advocates for changes to improve the quality of the planet. They should educate people about the serious state of the environment and use the power of the news media to bring about changes to improve the quality of the air, water, wildlife, and natural resources.

Trying to convince people about the importance of protecting the environment sometimes falls on deaf ears, in India and all around the world. Many people are simply not interested; society tends to assume that things like land, trees, plants, animals, and water resources – the resources they depend upon for their livelihoods – will always be there. Overuse or abuse of resources is not, most of the time, an important issue. But catching audiences’ attention is not the only hard thing environmental journalists have to face. Writing about the environment as a core issue for society sets numerous challenges for journalists. According to the analysis and interviews made, some are listed a few below:

  1. Lack of environmental and scientific training. Reporters without specialized training might ignore complicated environmental stories altogether or, if they attempt them, the results might be less than satisfactory for readers.
  2. Limited access to governmental data on environmental conservation.
  3. The existence of forest mafias threatens their professional activities as well as their private lives.
  4. Wildlife journalists have to balance the incongruity that comes as a produce of the short attention span that is affecting news consumers in a society that unfolds around consumerism combined with the fact that environmental stories are frequently complex and difficult to report.
  5. Citizens’ experiences of many environmental issues are mediated, in large part, by the interests of governmental agencies as well as the private sector (big corporations). These two spheres continually influence the media’s presentation of environmental issues putting at stake public perceptions.
  6. In recent years, it seems as though media interest in the environment has taken a backseat to other issues impacting the international scenario. Wildlife journalists have to deal with the priority of other subjects such as terrorism, poverty, economy, politics, and international relations.
  7. Journalists have to face the lack of training, resources or support from news editorials or sponsors.

The recognition of these challenges and a solution to them will impact the creation of a collective dialogue and deliberation on environmental issues that are of broad public concern.

The role of environmental journalism in climate change

Source:Barilla Center for Food& Nutrition

Sometimes, environmental journalism can be a dangerous profession, as evidenced by the statistics provided by reporters who lost their lives after exposing situations of exploitation of the planet’s resources. But it is also constructive journalism, which encourages people to take action when reporting good practices for environmental sustainability.

Although many people associate environmental journalism with unspoiled wild landscapes, or with fascinating animals and plants, according to Eric Freedman, who runs the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University, USA, working in environmental journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in journalism. Between 2005 and 2016, at least 40 journalists were killed worldwide while working in investigative environmental journalism and investigating environmental pollution incidents. This is more than the war correspondents who died in Afghanistan around that time. The reason is quite clear: environmental journalism, which asks questions and attracts the public’s attention, is a threat to those who have decided to exploit our planet’s resources at all costs through illegal activities, with little concern for short-, medium- and long-term sustainability.

A matter of awareness

Fortunately, these are extreme cases, although tragic: this profession does not only deal with uncovering the misdeeds of a few dishonest people, but above all, it now has the difficult task of helping to raise awareness of the factors that contribute to accelerating climate change, which is already underway.

To do so, it must openly challenge an opponent who does not use weapons, but relies on our common tendency to get distracted, to think of something else, especially when faced with a global issue such as climate change, which calls for global solutions that for the most part have yet to be found.

As pointed out in a detailed analysis made by the dean of American environmental journalism, Andy Revkin, in the July 2018 issue of National Geographic, the first press articles on global warming as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases produced to generate energy were published in the mid-1950s, yet this subject did not make its way into the editorial offices of major newspapers until the late 1980s. Unfortunately, today he concludes: “In the time it took to build the case that climate change is a pollution problem, it’s become unnervingly more than that.

A topic poorly covered by the media

But if the situation is this bad, as Washington Post columnist Katrina van den Heuvel recently asked herself, “why don’t the media talk about climate change every day, all day long?”. In a nutshell, her answer is that it is a slow-motion tragedy: or, to use another example, it is as if we were distracted by a great many shrubs and saplings that burn in the midst of frightening flames in the foreground, whereas in the background we can barely see the glow of the embers that slowly consume a forest of centuries-old trees. Sadly, people – and environmental journalism – sometimes place much more value on occasional catastrophic events than on phenomena that are so slow that they are almost imperceptible.

Environmental journalism, constructive journalism

But even when the latest scientific report predicts a gloomy future, or perhaps an extreme meteorological phenomenon gives us a foretaste of what will come in the near future if we do not act quickly and effectively, the front page news stirs up an emotion that is as strong as it is fleeting, or even a reaction of rejection: after years of alarming warnings, many people are now crying wolf.

This is why environmental journalism first tried to break the vicious circle of an increasingly catastrophic approach, drawing attention also to what we are beginning to do, and to success stories: it is the so-called “constructive journalism”, also known as “solutions journalism”, which attempts to challenge the traditional use of striking headlines while awakening the public’s interest and providing encouraging examples that give hope for the future and encourage everyone to do the best they can.


1- Why covering the environment is one of the most dangerous beats in journalism

From the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi by Saudi agents to President Trump’s clashes with the White House press corps, attacks on reporters are in the news. This problem extends far beyond the politics beat, and world leaders aren’t the only threats. READ MORE  # By CONVERSATION

2- Environment reporters facing harassment and murder, study finds

Reporting such stories for national and international media often involves traveling to remote communities and confronting powerful interests. This makes it inherently dangerous.India is one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist – three of the 13 identified as having been killed in the course of their work since 2009 were from the country. Three more were based in the Philippines. The others died in Panama, Colombia, Russia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. READ MORE # By The Guardian