Environmental journalism and its challenges | WWF

Environmental journalism and its challenges

Posted on 11 March 2009    
Children should be one of the main targets of environmental journalism, in India and everywhere
© WWF / Kees van der Vlugt
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 times, 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, I 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.
Children should be one of the main targets of environmental journalism, in India and everywhere
© WWF / Kees van der Vlugt Enlarge

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