Tens of millions of news consumers of 20 media outlets in 15 countries got a much-needed flow of information about climate change in the past two weeks thanks to an innovative project called the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP).
Set up by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, Panos and the International Institute for Environment and Development, the CCMP’s main activity is a fellowship programme that enables journalists to report on intergovernmental climate-change negotiations.
Since 2007, the CCMP has provided over 170 fellowships to journalists who would otherwise be unable to attend these talks. Last week, the latest group – 19 journalists working in 15 nations – completed their two-week fellowships at the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
“It is not easy for us journalists from the Least Developed Countries to make our own way to cover international meetings,” says Ramesh Bhushal, a CCMP fellow from Nepal. “The two-week meeting was an amazing opportunity to learn and network with people from around the world.”
Carol Francis, a TV journalist from Jamaica and CCMP fellow, adds:
“The fellowship taught me how I can become the voice, the expert, who can bring these [climate change] stories home.”
Kevin Grose, head of the UN climate treaty’s press office, says: “Building journalists’ capacity across developing countries has had a tremendous multiplier effect. Journalists from the CCMP – from India, from the Philippines, from Africa among many other countries – have gone on to hold their own trainings and workshops that have really increased the capacity to report on climate change back home. They are seen locally as having ‘the knowledge.’”
As well as receiving editorial support and training on the science and politics of climate change, the journalists went on a field trip to see how Durban is acting to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The CCMP also organized a special briefing by a panel of senior negotiators from the United States, European Union, Japan and the Least Developed Countries negotiating block.
“What stood out this year was not only how smoothly the CCMP program ran, but also how well known the CCMP has become among participants of the summit, including leading delegates,” says James Fahn, executive director of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. “Some of our events have really become fixtures on the COP agenda.”
“Each year hundreds of journalists apply for the fellowships and we have a very difficult task of selecting the small number we can afford to support,” says Mike Shanahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development adds: “The CCMP fellows’ passion and determination for finding great stories and reporting them in ways that are relevant to their audiences has helped inform millions of people around the world about climate change and what it will mean for their lives.”
Reporting on the conference and side events for their home media outlets was the top priority for the CCMP fellows, and they sent dozens of stories home, but they also published stories on the partnership’s website. These focused not only on the negotiations but on everything from new research into snow cover in the Himalayas and the stories of Indian rag-pickers who risk losing their jobs to the green economy.
“The fellows produced some excellent coverage of both the process and the atmosphere of the conference,” says Tim Williams, of Panos London. “These two reporting styles allowed journalists to explore new formats with the safety net of mentors who could guide them, and think more creatively on how to portray the climate change narrative to different audiences.”
The fellowship was a great networking opportunity for mid-career journalists, who can now utilise the contacts made with their national delegations, with international NGO spokespeople, scientists, climate change journalists from other disciplines and countries. This will help them develop their career and increase awareness about climate change back home.
They will stay in touch with each other, and with CCMP staff and fellows from previous years, through a mailing list that serves to support each fellow as they continue to cover climate change in their own countries.
The CCMP will announce how journalists can apply for its 2012 fellowships early next year.
Notes to Editors
The 2011 fellows and their media outlets were: Maria Gabriela Ensinck (El Cronista Comercial, Argentina); Flavia Moraes (O Eco, Brazil); Li Jing (China Daily, China); Lorenzo Morales (Semana, Colombia); Stella Paul (Planet Earth, India); Isyana Artharini (Yahoo! Indonesia, Indonesia); Carol Francis (TVJ, Jamaica); Tiwonge Ng’ona (The Guardian Newspaper, Malawi); Chrisjan Appollus (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, Namibia); Ramesh Bhushal (The Himalayan Times, Nepal); Armsfree Ajanaku (The Guardian Newspapers Ltd, Nigeria); Faisal Raza Khan (DAWN News, Pakistan); Dave Durbach (Daily Sun, South Africa); Sean Christie (Mail and Guardian newspaper, South Africa); Fidelis Zvomuya (Agriconnect Communication Media, South Africa); Hasina Mjingo (Tanzania Standard Newspaper Limited); Deodatus Mfugale (Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania); Heather King (Greenbiz.com, United States) and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein (Hoy, United States).
Funding for the 2011 CCMP programme came from: The Kendeda Fund, the Smart Family Foundation, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, The Center for International Forestry Research, Hewlett Packard and – through in-kind contributions – Internews, Panos London and the International Institute for Environment and Development.