Media workshop highlights climate change reporting challenges

A three-day training on climate change reporting was carried out for the media on July 13-15 to create awareness on reporting on Climate Change (CC) in Bhutan by the Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF).

Executive Director of BMF, Needrup Zangpo said the media faces challenges on reporting on climate change on two fronts. According to him, due to lack of knowledge and skills, climate change is among the least covered subjects by the media in Bhutan. “Our newsroom professionals do not have enough knowledge and skills,” he said. The other reason could be lack of funds as media houses are weak and are not able to send reporters to the field to do climate change stories.

He said media matters particularly for young democracies like Bhutan trying to build a democratic culture. “Media serves as a platform for public debate and discussion and platform for knowledge and information for a country like Bhutan which is aspiring to be a knowledge society. Media plays a crucial role as it is only through media that people get information.”

He said that the workshop held on climate change reporting was a first of its kind in Bhutan. They would firstly train the group of media professionals on climate change reporting and then invite proposals from them to do climate change stories which they would fund in the form of grants.  

Tashi Dorji, former editor of Business Bhutan said climate change in a way is quite a technical subject. He said understanding the details of CC is not very easy. “Compared to other countries, our media is relatively young, our journalists are not very experienced and they do not have the luxury of enjoying beats,” he said adding that is the reason journalists report everything that is available.

He said media matters as it connects society. He believes that a transparent show of information depends on how effective the media is, as a result, the role of media is crucial and to be efficient, and the need for good journalism in a country is essential. “The flow of information from those in power is also important,” he said adding that right to information is also a matter of concern for journalists.

Gopilal Acharya said the main challenges in CC reporting are lack of understanding of climate change concepts and the absence of credible data and expert opinions. “Journalists need better skills to write climate change related stories,” he said.

He said media is important to interpret difficult scientific messages into simple language. “Media should act as an interface between scientists, policymakers, and the citizenry.”

Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu