Asia is undoubtedly experiencing some of the worst effects of the climate crisis but unfortunately, there are still gaps in the climate change conversation in the region, particularly due to not enough climate stories in local media.
Coming from the paradigm shift prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we entered 2021 with a dream: help journalists produce quality climate stories in Asia. As journalists ourselves, we know that there is growing interest, especially in younger storytellers, to write more about the impacts of climate change in the region, but they need support.
For Made Anthony Iswara, from Indonesia, the fellowship has allowed him to directly interact with sources he would otherwise struggle to get in touch with — enhancing his overall reportage of climate issues not just on a national but also on a global scale.
Monika Mondal, from India, noted that Climate Tracker has equipped fellows with necessary skills and knowledge to understand and interpret decisions during the climate summit which she said gave them “a better chance to write a story rich with context and insights that we would otherwise write in a surface-level way,”
Saving Asia: An interview series on Climate Justice
This year, we also worked on launching a new portal with the help of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. We want to create an ecosystem of support for environmental journalism in Asia. To do this, we launched an online platform tailored to support journalists across the region to get the context, the sources, and the insights they need to tell powerful climate stories that meet their editorial goals and deadlines. The Climate Tracker Asia included thematically information packages or factsheets, a network of experts, and links to our Asia Newsletter and WhatsApp group.
The website is also a host platform of the Climate Tracker Asia Journalism Network, where we feature journalists in our community. We know that relationships and networking are crucial to a journalist’s career and we hope to connect budding journalists to their peers in the region.
Our 2021 started with a dream and we are ending it with a Journalism Hub specifically made to serve the Asian community but more has to be done.
We acknowledge that we encountered limitations this year, one of which was the diversity in Asian media. While some have publications in English, some countries specially in Southeast Asia prefer engagements in their local languages. Climate Tracker has started publishing information packages in Bahasa, we hope to expand in 2022 to cater to Thailand, Vietnam, and South Asia.
Despite a more connected world, the barrier between scientists and storytellers became more apparent, as it became easier for experts to shy away from journalists needing diverse voices in their stories. We learned that while journalists need to understand science, scientists too need the avenue to put their message across. In 2022, we want to bridge the gap between journalists and civil society organizations, experts, and science communicators. We want to open a platform for stakeholders to interact to deepen the climate conversation.
2021 also saw some of our media colleagues pursuing other paths and as such, we aim to help newsrooms cultivate next generation journalists in 2022. We want to provide more training and workshops not just for practicing journalists but for upcoming storytellers culled from the best campus papers in Asia.