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DUNIA CFI Conference: Journalists advised to craft simple means for news reporting

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Journalists from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and France during the DUNIA CFI Cinference on climate change reporting in Addis Ababa.

As journalists and stakeholders, there’s need for us to learn simple techniques that help us effectively best tell the story of our times (Climate emergency) at the same time be able to great a proficient archiving system for consistency.” These were the words of a Ugandan multi-award winning journalist, Javier Silas Omagor.

Addressing the Journalism and Climate Emergency conference 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the start of what he called a “crucial global phenomenon that requires immediate action to secure our global future”, Omagor called for a collaborative approach in the fight to combat climate change.

“There is a disabling gap between scientists and climate change journalists right now across the country. I suggest that we replace this with a healthy and functional working relationship for the good of all.” told the conference, noting that there seemed to be bad blood between journalists and scientists at the moment.

“None of us can address climate emergency by themselves, we need each and every one including local communities, policy makers, scientists, law enforcers, leaders and of course media.”

Throughout his speech, Omagor stressed the centrality of African media houses and their journalists to prioritize solution biased climate change reporting rather than limiting it to disaster and its aftermath.

He pointed to progressive work made by Ugandan journalists but emphasized that more is needed to be done in terms of forewarning and disaster risk reduction media approach so as to reduce social and economic losses caused by climate emergency.

Javier Silas Omagor Speaking at Journalism and Climate Change Seminar 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addressing the Journalism and Climate Emergency conference 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,

Omagor stressed the centrality of African media houses and their journalists to prioritize solution biased climate change reporting rather than limiting it to disaster and its aftermath.

He pointed to progressive work made by Ugandan journalists but emphasized that more is needed to be done in terms of forewarning and disaster risk reduction media approach so as to reduce social and economic losses caused by climate emergency.

L-R Sana of UBC TVRADIO and AICA News Website CEO Noah Omuya and other delegates following having a light moment as they followed the proceedings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

25 years of complete failure by African journalists

In a panel discussion on the question about simplicity of talking about climate change, these questions were raised:

How do African media organizations currently cover climate change?  Is current coverage reflective of the urgency of the issues? To what extent is climate change a global, cross-cutting but also complex issue? What shortcomings and obstacles do media organizations face in terms of the coverage of the issue?  What can be done to improve coverage? Why is there a greater focus on consequences rather than causes?

In that discussion, Wanjohi Kabukuru, a veteran journalist from Kenya disclosed that African journalists have had 25 years of total failure in telling stories of impact about climate change.

“The challenge we have in African journalism is that we have journalists who are very good but are competitors and those who are joy riders,” said Kabukuru.

He added that journalists are drowned in the myth of reporting stories of crisis and forget about solutions angled stories.

Kabukuru advised that journalists have a task to understand their role as story tellers and not competitors.

“Once we understand that we are not scientists or policy makers but story tellers, then we can be good story tellers,” he advised.

The delegates pose for a group photo during the Journalism and Climate Change Seminar 2019.

Denial of space for stories

In a discussion the media, climate change denial and fake news: who is responsible?

Mr. Abaas Mpindi, the CEO of Media Challenge Initiative in Uganda brought to the attention of the house that there are a lot of cases related to climate change being dropped from the news rooms.

“Personally, I had organized for the Media Expo on Climate Change in Uganda. I contacted one of the TV newsroom editors and asked for his support and he told me that climate change is not real,” said Abaas.

In relation to his story, a question comes that if that was him asking for a cooperation with the newsroom, what about journalists who are covering climate change related issues?

It is evident that there is a problem of denial of space for climate change stories by the Media.

Also read:

The fate of climate action reporting: is the media responsible?

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