Media Urged to Amplify Climate Change Story
Climate change researchers and scientists said media practitioners have the inimitable capacity to help step up climate action through support and education, but their potential to amplify the climate change agenda still remains largely unexploited.
By Lazarus Sauti
Speaking at the Climate Change Workshop, systematised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and funded by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) under the theme “Popularising the Climate Change Debate through the Media”, panellists said that shrinking budgets and lack of public interest are some of the problems that journalists face when trying to report on environmental issues today.
Tawanda Nyabize, Climate Change Coordinator for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, affixed that climate and environmental issues can be boring and scientific, but these issues are important.
“Accordingly, media practitioners should ensure their audiences find environmental topics interesting,” he said.
Sharing the same views, Augustine Mukaro, Projects Officer for Friends of the Environment added that climate and environmental reporting is still viewed as a soft beat and as such does not harvest as much curiosity as politics.
“Journalists should, therefore, not only make climate and environment stories interesting, but accord them the same status as political reporting,” he said.
Climate change writer/researcher, Jeffrey Gogo asserted that journalists should find avenues to centre climate and environmental issues on human stories.
He added: “To engage audiences on climate issues, journalists should share positive stories about panaceas being developed by individuals, communities as well as the business sector; this, without doubt, will immensely help to bring climate and environmental issues to extensive awareness.”
As for Bethel Goka, an Information Technology specialist, media practitioners should embrace social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter to amplify the climate change agenda and reach more people.
He also urged media organisations and other stakeholders in the environmental sector to invest more in capacity-building workshops for media practitioners, particularly climate and environmental reporters.
“Without an accurate understanding of climate and environmental facts,” affirmed ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi, “journalists run the risk of misrepresenting issues.”
Dongozi also urged public and private organisations to step up efforts to help journalists report clearly on climate and environmental issues.
Tirivanhu Muhwati, Climate Change Scientist, said the media should be investigative and be at the forefront of shaping public opinion.
He also encouraged media practitioners to work with the government and other development partner in amplifying the climate change story in Zimbabwe.