Over the years, we have seen how journalism has the ability to transform issues and galvanize the public. For example, recent reporting on severe water contamination and its detrimental health effects to the community of Flint, Michigan, USA, has spurred citizen-led efforts to rally for clean water drinking water. This campaign has garnered national attention and support.
On the other hand, news coverage can be a dangerous business. In their annual survey for 2015, Reporters without Borders has found that for the majority of the 180 countries assessed, the political and social conditions within which journalists and independent media work has gotten worse overall.
Currently, much of the mainstream media coverage, particularly when it comes to environmental issues limits itself to focusing on political rhetoric and disaster reportage while underlying structural changes taking place due to climate change and other factors, largely go ignored. However, there are a number of new trends in how environmental issues are reported, shared and debated, such as crowd-sourced geo-journalism. Likewise, the use of the social media has expanded how news coverage can be shared and amplified from traditional platforms.
We at Thrive, along with many other media organizations and NGOs recognize the importance of this and have moved away from just reporting on the problems to instead constructively discuss, debate, and share solutions.
Over the next few months, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and The Third Pole Network will be hosting a dialogue for media development professionals in the Indus River Basin. In conjunction, we are hosting an online discussion on Thrive with the question:
How can the media galvanize more effective responses to social and environmental challenges?
So we want to hear your opinion. What, do you believe to be the root issues that need to be addressed in media? How do you go about using media for development especially in politically-sensitive environments and in the face of national censorship? What are some success stories that you would like to share?
Our aim is to encourage a productive dialogue that will help to bridge the information gap between the media to the public, with the intention of developing informed audiences ready to better understand their surrounding ecosystems and take action within their communities.
If you are interested, we would like to invite you to join our discussion by submitting a quick 300-500 word opinion piece. For more information or submissions, please email j.furtado(at)cgiar.org or n.nair(at)cgiar.org