Building Awareness about Climate Change among Pakistani Journalists
In early July 2013, a five-day national workshop was held in the city of Ahmedpur East in Pakistan to build journalists’ awareness about climate change (CC) and to train them to report more competently on the subject. The event was part of UNESCO New Delhi’s inter-sectoral project ‘Combating Climate Change in South Asia: Media Interventions for Public Awareness and Action’.
The workshop was implemented by Rural Media Network Pakistan, and was attended by 24 journalists from the print and broadcast media. It combined the acquisition of knowledge about CC with the development of practical skills on reporting CC. The central theme was the impact of CC on the Hindu Kush Himalayan ecosystem as it affects Pakistan.
The workshop began with a session on the global impact of CC, and then focused on the effect of CC in Pakistan (including the specific challenges posed to certain sectors and services; CC’s effect on the Hindu Kush Himalayan region; community-based mitigation and adaptation measures; the Government of Pakistan’s policy initiatives and inter-governmental cooperation to control the effects of CC).
An investigation of the media’s role in reporting CC in Pakistan served as an introduction to the professional skill development sessions that formed the core of the workshop. Veteran Pakistani journalists provided practical training on the development of story angles, research, information gathering and analysis, and writing and production skills. Participating journalists were also taken on a field visit to a village on the southern bank of the Sindh river, about 120 km from Ahmedpur East, which had been severely affected by floods. Signs of devastation were still visible, from the eroded riverbank to shattered buildings and piles of debris. Conversations with villagers revealed the human and economic impact of the disaster.
The 24 participants emerged from the workshop with increased confidence in developing stories on CC’s impacts on people in affected areas, and people’s responses to CC. Following the workshop, each participant was expected to produce and publish at least two stories on issues relating to pre-selected themes. Several of these stories have already begun to appear in Pakistani newspapers and on news channels. It is expected that as a result of increased media coverage, there will be a growth in public awareness of the linkages between environmental issues, social problems, and the wider economy. Finally, the workshop has contributed to the strengthening of local media networks and improvement of media relations in the region (on CC-related reporting and coverage). The event itself has received wide media coverage in Pakistan.
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