A boat floats on a muddy river with green hills in the background

EJN Update: Murky waters, indigenous video reporting, and more opportunities

March 31, 2021
Updates from Internews Earth Journalism Network

“It would be a shame if we are only able to inform the public about the riches of Mentawai – for instance, about its culture, nature, the people, and education -- [through] text. In the presentation of news, journalistic video amidst the development of technology today is very important.” – Bambang Sagurung, a journalist from Sikabaluan, Mentawai, who participated in a training for Indigenous people of the Mentawai Islands in western Indonesia

This month we launched a special investigation looking at new scientific findings that reveal how destructive environmental practices in the Amazon coupled with climate change are driving an explosion of harmful algae blooms in the Atlantic and Caribbean. It’s part of an effort we’re making to support more cross-border reporting as a way to expand the reach of these important stories. We also have updates on the unique ways our media grantees are working to build grassroots support and outreach to journalists across the Asia-Pacific, we name the 12 Fellows joining our Mekong Data Journalism program and we highlight the early impact of a illegal logging story by a reporter in the Solomon Islands. Check out our two latest grant opportunities and register for our pre-Earth Day summit on zoonotic disease reporting below.

Special Investigation Links Amazon Destruction to Massive Ocean Algae Bloom

Overhead view of clouds over a body of waterTo better explore the effects of a sprawling sargassum belt that has grown explosively in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, journalists, remote sensing experts and editors from Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala and the US worked together to study the latest science on its causes, investigate the sources of growing pollution in the Amazon basin, research the economic and ecological impacts in the Caribbean and put it all together in a compelling series of stories we’ve called “Murky Waters.” Read more

Indigenous Journalists in Indonesia Use Video to Share Stories about Their People, Environment

A man films in a room with a group of menThe Indigenous people of the Mentawai Islands in western Indonesia live according to Indigenous wisdom that has been passed down through generations. But they are often marginalized by government policies that aim for economic growth rather than protecting the natural resources on which they depend, and they say they seldom see any benefits from the companies that extract those products.

Enter MentawaiKita, or “We Are Mentawai,” a community radio station, newspaper and now online news portal working to voice the concerns of the Mentawai people and report on the climate and environment. 

But video has been a missing element of MentawaiKita’s work, and journalists in the Mentawais more broadly. So last month, with the support of EJN, a journalism training was held for 12 indigenous journalists aimed at boosting their ability to tell stories about the threats facing their environment. The training was the first of five, with future workshops planned to support women storytellers report about their environment using a mobile phone. Read more

Media Grantees Offer Trainings, Courses and Innovative Learning Experiences

A group of people photograph a man talking in the woodsConnecting food and culture to domestic tourists in Cambodia. A report on deforestation that led to a government investigation in Vietnam. An examination of “no fire” policies in Thailand. These are just some of the results of several projects currently underway from EJN’s cohort of Asia-Pacific media grantees, who are using distinct and innovative approaches to build journalists’ reporting skills in their regions. Read more

Twelve Journalists Awarded Data-Journalism Fellowships to Cover Water Security in the Mekong Region

EJN and the East-West Center have awarded Fellowships to 12 journalists from the Mekong region aimed at enhancing their data journalism skills and providing them with guidance and mentorship to report on critical water security issues. The journalists were selected following an open call for applications that EJN launched in February as part of its new Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship, a partnership between EJN, EWC and the Stimpson Center. Read more

Solomon Islands Journalists Get a Crash Course in Covering Extractive Industries, Conservation

A field trip to the Solomon Islands’ only nature park on March 26th was the highlight of a three-day reporting workshop on extractive industries and species protection that EJN supported in partnership with the Media Association of the Solomon Islands.The visit gave the participants a chance to see how endemic species can be protected from extractive industries, such as logging. The training exposed the dilemma the country faces striking a balance between the need for conservation and the push to extract resources for economic benefit. Read more

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Webinars

Webinar: How to Cover Zoonotic Diseases

Learning About Zoonotic Diseases and How To Cover Them

The spillover of dangerous pathogens from animals to humans has become a hot topic over the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How can journalists do a better job of covering this issue? Please join the Earth Journalism Network for this special pre-Earth Day webinar to learn about the new online course we’re launching for journalists on zoonotic diseases and hear from some experts in the field of One Health.

Date: Tuesday, April 20th
Time: 9am DC / 11 am Mexico City / 2pm London / 4pm Nairobi / 6:30 pm New Delhi / 8pm Bangkok

Register for the webinar

Opportunities

Story Grants

  • Investigating Environmental Policy in Latin America: Grants will support the production of enterprise stories that will explore how international diplomacy is shaping environmental policy in Latin America. Deadline: April 14. Learn more and apply
  • Renewable Energy in India: Grants will support the production of in-depth stories on the policy, financing, payment and infrastructure hurdles around renewable energy in India broadly. Deadline extended: April 30. Learn more and apply

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Awards

  • EJN Story Grantees Win Equitable Asia Award 2021: Philippine Daily Inquirer reporters Mariejo Ramos and Krixia Subingsubing won 1st prize in the Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award 2021, hosted by The Asia Centre and Oxfam International, for their EJN-supported story, Lockdown-Weary Jeepney Sector Faces Dec. 31 Deadline. The story focused on how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the government’s push to modernize public transport, and it found that new regulations unduly burdened the jeepney sector, which was already suffering the brunt of Manila’s lockdown. Ramos’s and Subingsubing’s story was chosen from among 112 entries from 12 countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Impact

  • In mid-March, EJN story grantee Ofani Eremae wrote about how major multinational logging companies were illegally cutting down endangered Tubi trees endemic to the Solomon Islands. Just after its publication online, the president of the Solomon Forest Association (SFA), Johny Lee Sy, put several remarks in the comments section saying the association would take stern action against the offending companies, expelling them from SFA membership if necessary, and apologized for not better controlling its members. The SFA is the main body responsible for monitoring the activities of all logging companies operating in the Solomon Islands. Eremae reported that the SFA has since suspended the membership of the two companies exposed in the story, an action that paves the way for the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Forestry to cancel their felling licenses. We’ll continue to follow the story and provide updates. Read the story in the Island Sun.

What we're reading, watching, listening to...

  • Reading: This story from New Humanitarian looks at how women and girls often bear the brunt of the fallout from natural disasters. It’s a topic we often discuss with reporters but merits revisiting. While this piece shares the experiences of women in Guatemala, many other disaster-prone countries are facing similar challenges.
  • Listening to: This recent podcast from “How to Save a Planet” looks at the role individuals play in reducing climate-altering carbon emissions vs the need for systems change. We chose it because we know environmental reporters can struggle with the line between reporting that calls people to action and outright activism. And we thought this quote from one of the hosts was worth highlighting: “Individual actions can matter but only if they’re used as a tool toward changing the larger systems.” And that, ultimately, is one of our jobs as journalists, to inform, expose, share truths and hold power to account. That’s our individual action, and it doesn’t call for activism.
  • Learning from: This 2020 study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature explores the links between gender-based violence and the environment, a timely topic to mark Women’s History month.