Pakistan, 4 June 2010 (IUCN): ‘Investigative reporting is one of the highest calling for journalists; it is one of the best ways we can serve our public and our democracy’, Dr. Sherry Ricchiardi, Professor, School of Journalism, Indiana University.
A two-day workshop titled ‘Environmental and Investigative Journalism’ was jointly organized by IUCN Pakistan and US Consulate General Karachi, at the IUCN Country Office, Karachi.
The objective of the interactive training session was to sensitize and equip media representatives, particularly reporters and photo journalists, to support environmentally conscious development in Pakistan. Given the increasing role of the media in determining public perceptions, values and decisions, the event organizers consider it vital to involve media houses, particularly for environmental sustainability that will have national and transboundary impacts on development. The event would thus initiate an understanding that can culminate in reorienting developmental priorities through cultivating a transformation in values, attitudes and choices and also open doors for collective action through public support.
The workshop was attended by participants from a wide range of organizations, encompassing heads and representatives of media houses, development sector organizations, cultural centres and subject specialists.
The key resource persons for the training were two media specialists from USA, Mr. Frank Folwell, a senior photojournalist at USA Today and Dr. Sherry Ricchiardi, Professor at School of Journalism, Indiana University.
Welcoming the participants, IUCN Pakistan Country Representative, Mr. Shah Murad Aliani, highlighted the role of IUCN as a knowledge based organization, also particularly known for its convening power. He said the workshop was just a beginning of a series of upcoming events geared towards empowering key stakeholders to be responsive and identify, investigate and contribute to the resolution of environmental concerns. He stressed on involving media and building their capacity to effectively cover natural calamities, marine and air pollution, deforestation and desertification, to mention a few. Mr. Aliani thanked the visiting journalists for their contribution in environmental reporting and offered to provide all possible support.
Steering the audience towards the workshop goals, Dr. Elizabeth O. Colton, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General felt that the ‘workshop was an excellent opportunity to combine journalism training with an emphasis on environmental issues’. She congratulated IUCN and the participants for a successful event and hoped that the initiative would help media houses make informed decisions for environmental reform and a better quality of life.
In his presentation to the photojournalists, Mr. Frank S. Folwell gave an overview of photojournalism and the role it plays in adding an extraordinary impact to a story. He shared considerable international experience and stories and informed the audience of the importance of documentary photography in highlighting serious environmental issues. He affirmed that ‘photojournalists are the eyes of the public; they can show us the condition of our cities, rivers and land, so we can understand the threats to our environment’. Mr. Folwell advised the journalists to follow certain guiding principles, such as accuracy and truth telling with photos.
Dr. Sherry Ricchiardi worked with Pakistani journalists on how to do investigative reporting on environmental issues. The group discussed the stages of the reporting process and how to tell stories that bring public attention to environmental issues. The goal of the session was to help provide the public with meaningful, accurate and comprehensive information on topics that impact Pakistan. The reporters discussed their role as a civilian voice for the environment in their country. Her reflection on the event was, ‘the journalists I worked with are excellent. They are aware of the important role they play in bringing environmental issues to public attention. I was impressed with their passion and commitment to this work.’
During the course of the event, the participants also shared their work and experiences. The discussions helped build commitment and define the future role of media houses as catalysts for change. It also contributed towards instilling trans-disciplinary understanding of social, economic and environmental sustainability by presenting relevant issues and corresponding nature based solutions.
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