Awards Recognize Coverage by EJN Fellow and Story Grantee

Belize-based television reporter Andrea Polanco, a 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership Fellow (CCMP) and host of EJN’s recent Mesoamerican Reef workshop, received two first-place awards from the Caribbean Broadcasting Union on Aug. 13 for a series of reports she wrote during her Fellowship to the last year’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) and the UN climate change conference, or COP24, in Poland.

An award shaped like a conch
The Golden Conch award received by reporter Andrea Polanco recognizes a body of reporting work that speaks to an issue of significance in the Caribbean / Courtesy of Andrea Polanco

Among her recognitions was the Golden Conch Award, the biggest prize awarded by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union in recognition of a body of reporting work that speaks to an issue of regional significance. Polanco received that honor for four stories she submitted from her coverage of the GCAS and COP.

In the climate change category, she won top honors for a story she produced at the COP on how women are impacted more than men by the effects of climate change, including hurricanes and super storms in the Caribbean. The issue was highlighted at a gender-focused event during the COP in Poland that put a spotlight on how female representatives from the Caribbean are advocating for more women to have a voice in climate change policies and decisions.

Polanco also won the People’s Choice award for a separate report she produced about the negative impacts of a proposed tourism development within a marine reserve.

Polanco, whose work was selected from among more than 120 entries, said she was thankful to EJN for the opportunity to attend the two global climate change conferences and report on how local and regional issues are being discussed by high-level policy makers.

“The CCMP Fellowship gave me a firsthand experience to understand how climate change decision making is done and how the policies impact us all, no matter where we live,” Polanco told EJN. “I reported on Belize and the wider SIDS’ participation, sharing a very unique perspective from a global stage that is not often reported on in the Caribbean. This afforded our audience a great opportunity to understand better the roles we play, as a people, to take climate action.”

See Polanco’s winning stories:

India-based freelance reporter Sharada Balasubramanian – recipient of a story grant from EJN’s Bay of Bengal project – also received accolades recently by winning the country’s prestigious Prem Bhatia award for environmental and development reporting. The jury specifically highlighted her EJN-supported work on how climate-resilient agricultural methods are helping farmers in the Andaman Islands as one that spoke about solutions.

“Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of your work is that while even critiquing policy shortfalls or highlighting devastating impacts, you keep alive hope by always looking out of solutions and innovations,” said one judge. “Stories about climate-resistant, resource-conserving technologies being brought to the Andamans, enabling farmers to move to three-tier farming systems reflect this positive approach.”

Balasubramanian – an economist by education who has received training in science communication and environmental management – said recognition is important for reporters because they take risks when going out to cover stories, and she thanked EJN for giving her the opportunity to report from an under-covered region.

“Through the Bay of Bengal grant, I could work with professional videographers, and bring out a rich visual story from the Andaman islands,” she said. “The EJN grant offered robust support and motivation for an independent, environmental journalist like me, to pursue important and untold stories. And this has immensely contributed to my career as an environmental journalist.” 

(Banner photo: Sharada Balasubramanian receives the Prem Bhatia award for environmental and development reporting / Courtesy of Sharada Balasubramanian)