As a way of bridging the gap in knowledge and capacity deficit in climate change reporting across the region, the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) is partnering with the British Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) on a “Climate Change in News Media” project.
With funding support from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the project aims to train journalists and editors from select newsrooms in Nigeria and Ghana.
It also seeks to empower them to report climate change impacts and consequences, policy actions and inactions by their respective governments, global and transnational negotiation processes, and the local solutions already existing in these countries.
Africa is worst hit by the devastating effects of climate change despite contributing the least to global carbon emissions. However, studies show that awareness of climate change in the region is low, and the media isn’t doing enough to amplify the discourse.
Speaking on the project, Felicia Dairo, the project coordinator on climate change at CJID, said journalists could adequately report evidence of and impact of climate change as it relates to the region only if they are well equipped.
She said: “For us to change the narrative of low climate change reporting across the region, it is important that we pay attention to the knowledge providers. When they are armed with the required knowledge, they can inform, educate and engage the citizens. We hope that at the end of the project, journalists across the pilot countries (Ghana and Nigeria) are more equipped to report evidence of and impact of climate change as it relates to their countries”.
The Project Manager of the Open Climate Reporting Initiative (OCRI) at the CIJ, Adeolu Adekola, noted that continuing the work in Africa to interrogate climate change is a need the CIJ identified following the first year of delivering OCRI.
He said: “The Climate Change in News Media with support from UNESCO’s Section for Media Development and Media in Emergency has a unique approach because it aims to go beyond regular news coverage. Working with CJID in Anglophone Africa and another partner in Francophone Africa will provide the select media organisations with tools and techniques to sustainably report climate change for impact in the regions.”
In 2022, CJID partnered with CIJ on Open Climate Reporting Initiative (OCRI) project to strengthen media and Civil Society Organisations’ capacity to report climate change in West Africa. Under the project, 38 journalists were trained in climate change reporting fellowship from five Anglophone West African countries with 22-story grants disbursed to the journalists to produce deep dives on climate change.
A total of 27 stories were published on 10 media platforms during the fellowship period across four anglophone countries. A COP reporting handbook was also published ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP) 27 under the project to help journalists and researchers better understand the event.
Also, the OCRI supported the flood intervention project where a flood documentary was produced and 14 special reports were published on flood related-issues across the country.
About Climate Change in News Media Project
The Climate Change in the News Media project is a pilot project to train journalists and editors in select newsrooms in Ghana and Nigeria for Anglophone Africa on climate change-related issues. A survey was deployed to the select newsrooms in both countries to understand better the patterns of climate change reporting in their respective newsrooms.
The beneficiary organisations are selected from online, print, and broadcast media platforms.
The project’s first phase would commence with a 2-day training workshop in Ghana on the 15th and 16th of March, while a corresponding training, the second phase, is scheduled for the 28th and 29th of March in Nigeria.
After the training, the participants from each organisation are expected to conduct a step-down training for their colleagues. Each newsroom is expected to set up a climate change reporting desk for at least three months to amplify climate change reporting. CJID and CIJ will also support participating newsrooms with resources to implement this project.
Ahead of the training, the Programme Director, CJID, Akintunde Babatunde said environmental issues facing African countries are numerous, and thus, it demands rigorous Civil Society Organisations(CSO) engagement and media amplification to ignite policy responses from the government. Lack of capacity, the technicality of the subject of climate change and limited or no financial resources means climate change issues are under-discussed and under-reported in the media, but with CJID’s partnership with CIJ, it is hoped that this intervention will not only advance the capacity of journalists but also solidify a culture of climate change reporting in African newsrooms.
Director of Programmes, CJID