Thanks in part from your generous donation, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) brought a total of 45 journalists to the UNFCCC COP16 Climate Summit held in Cancun. As part of the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) we once again had the largest media delegation at the annual summit. We also brought 11 US journalist Fellows to work alongside the developing country reporters we usually bring.
Our delegation included 31 CCMP Fellows (20 women and 11 men) from 26 developing countries, 11 US journalists – including reporters from such notable organizations as the New York Times, the LA Times and NPR – and a few other partners from various developing countries. Working with the 16 CCMP and EJN staff members from around the world who also joined the program in Cancun, we provided a varied and supportive training programme throughout the two week period:
These measures enhanced the journalist’s knowledge and skills and enabled them to focus on their work of reporting on the negotiations and events to their home media.
The impacts on the CCMP and EJN Fellows included the following:
“[My editors] loved the stories I filed. And for the first time in a year, I got two front page stories on climate change.” - Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, United States
Coverage from CCMP and EJN Fellows included:
- World Bank climate envoy takes on Jagdeo by Neil Marks. Kaieteur News, December 4, 2010
- At climate summit, they're feeling like deserted islands by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 4, 2010
- Powerpoint Diplomacy in an Energy Push at Climate Talks by Andrew Revkin. New York Times, December 6, 2010
- Flood crisis highlighted at Cancun talks by Rina Saeed Khan. DAWN national daily, December 8, 2010
- In Cancun, protest breaks out against REDD by Meena Menon. The Hindu, December 9, 2010
- Jordan receives $200,000 grant from World Bank by Farah Atyyat. Al Ghad (Arabic), December 10, 2010
- Mexican state seeks to join California in carbon emissions effort by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 10, 2010
- Two options for China’s emission reductions by Yuan Ying. ifeng.com, December 10, 2010
- Last minute: optimism raises in Cancun summit by Martín De Ambrosio. Diario Perfil (Spanish),December 11, 2010
- Consensus Emerges On Common Climate Path by Andrew Revkin. New York Times, December 11, 2010
- U.N. pacts contain small steps but no broad accord on climate change by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 12, 2010
- Google opens world's forests for all to see by Suzanne Bohan. Contra Costa Times, December 13, 2010
- Global warming protesters ramp up with climate talks' failure Slideshow by Mark Malijan, Story by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 13, 2010
- California Plan May Affect Deforestation Abroad by Gretchen Weber. The California Report, December 13, 2010
- Cancun restores faith in the fight against climate change by Pablo Fonseca. La Nación (Spanish),December 13, 2010
- Read blog posts from the Fellows on the CCMP Website
Most gratifying of all was the way in which the journalists from the US and the developing world not only got along, but actively collaborated. They exchanged information and tips, provided each other with photos, sources and content, and found numerous other ways – both formal and informal – to help each other out. And the collaboration will continue, both online through our virtual networks in some cases through direct collaboration. Everyone remarked that this was an outstanding new feature of the program, and we hope to continue promoting this interaction in the future.
The Fellows’ audiences received approximately 475 stories with vital information on climate change and the UN climate change negotiations in their local languages and within a local context. The best of the developing country stories can be found at www.climatemediaparnership.org while the US stories can be found at http://earthjournalism.net/program/cop16-fellowship
By helping to create a more informed public and policy-makers who are more aware about climate change, and by serving as a watchdog on negotiators to make sure they deliberate in good faith, the CCMP Fellowships helped to make developing countries more resilient in the face of climate change impacts and more understanding of the potential benefits of addressing this challenge.
“Being in Cancún helped me to report back home on issues that Guyanese are interested in. I could not have done that were in not for the Climate Change Media Partnership. I was the only journalist from Guyana in Cancún.” - Neil Marks, Kaieteur News, Guyana
The Fellows’ presence at COP16 created an incentive for the delegations to put their best foot forward – if there would be no one present to hold them accountable, it would be easier for country delegations to participate minimally, while telling the public otherwise. The watchdog role of the journalist, certainly a journalist from a country where the average media house cannot afford to send a media professional to an expensive UN conference, is not to be underestimated in this context. Often, certain developing countries do not have one single member of their national press present at the UN climate change summits. It must also be noted that some country delegations are not willing to talk to journalists from their own countries, possibly because of certain rules within their delegations.
At COP16, the possibility of an agreement on the UN programme REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was one of the most high-profile topics on the table. The REDD+ programme is controversial at times, mainly because it could affect the rights of indigenous peoples that are dependent on forests for their livelihoods, and therefore be an unsustainable solution to climate change. The CCMP staff and Fellows split into three groups and visited three separate REDD+ pilot projects that are implemented by NGOs and indigenous communities in the Yucatan region.
From the beginning of the Fellowship, it was clear that the COP16 summit would not be as high-profile, and therefore as newsworthy to editors, as the previous summit in Copenhagen. All Fellows were able to get stories published regardless and several informed their CCMP editors that their stories made it to the front page or homepage of their media house.
The 2010 CCMP Fellows produced an estimated total of 400 stories during the COP16 climate summit. This is a high story per journalist average, especially considering the fact that editorial demand for reports from the Cancun conference was much lower than during the 2009 COP15 conference in Copenhagen. The EJN Fellows from the US, meanwhile, produced approximately 75 stories.
As we have heard from this year’s Fellows, and know from the previous CCMP Fellowships, the Fellows’ experiences and the contacts they made during the two weeks they spent in Cancun have given them a wealth of information and story ideas for future reports.
The CCMP Fellows, and their reports from the conference, were able to reach a combined audience of millions. Not only were their reports published in their 26 home countries, they were often published online as well in international languages that have a wider-than-national reach. Their perspectives were able to reach audiences on other sides of the world, including those in the developing world. In addition, the journalists produced stories for the CCMP website. That said, stories produced in small, local languages are also able to have a significant impact in local communities.
The day after the one year anniversary of the earthquake my colleague, Marisa , and I rode up the hill to the Hotel Montana to meet Internews’ staff. The Hotel Montana, previously one of the nicest hotels in Port-au-Prince had collapsed during the earthquake, killing and injuring several people inside. When we arrived the main part of the hotel had been completely destroyed, although most of the rubble cleared in the past year.
A downstairs portion, including a conference room, remained in tact. For the week of the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, Internews set up a temporary journalist station in this conference room where both local and international journalists could come to learn, write, and post their stories. “Half of the time journalists spend in this country is just working out logistics – finding power, internet, etc,” said Phillip Allouard, Internews’ Haiti Country Director. Each day, they brought in experts from the country about different topics to present to the journalist present. They covered topics like the cholera outbreak and the reconstruction efforts in the country.
Internews’ mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard.. Their first program, ENDK, produces a 15-20 minute informational radio program six days a week to provide Haitians with information they need on topics like where they can access health care, employment opportunities, and disease prevention and treatment. This program is currently run on about 40 community radio stations throughout the country. As evidence of their reach, a recent study of the program’s target areas found that 100% of people surveyed had not only heard the program, but could cite specific examples of useful information they had gained from listening.
Internews works hard to make sure that the information they’re providing is what Haitians actually want to hear. They’ve created a research unit that has grown to almost 20 employees in the past several months. The research unit originated to identify and track the information needs of the communities they serve. They have found that across the board – from the time of the earthquake to now – people want health-related information. Internews has responded with information about where people can access clinics, what symptoms indicate illnesses like cholera, malaria, and typhoid, and what people can do to prevent illness. Their research has become so respected that other organizations, including government officials and other non-profit organizations, have begun paying for access to the information. One long-term possibility is to turn this research unit into an information consulting business run by Haitians even after Internews is no longer involved.
Jennifer Mandel, Deputy Country Director, believes that one of the biggest impacts Internews will have on the country is the lasting training and capacity building they have been carrying out throughout the past year. As funding for the radio program winds down, the journalists and researchers they’ve trained throughout the last year will remain in the country, continuing to provide high-quality research and reporting to rebuild Haiti in the future.
Public information and effective community outreach identified by World Health Organization (WHO) as the single most effective way of tackling cholera
In close coordination with the Government of Haiti, local media partners, the United Nations, international and local relief organizations, and health and civilian protection officials, Internews is helping to coordinate and disseminate a large-scale emergency public information campaign vital to the containment, prevention and early treatment of cholera as the World Health Organization (WHO) states "that a public information campaign can make the difference between life and death" in Haiti.
The government and the humanitarian community are responding to a cholera outbreak that is blamed for more than 250 deaths and over 3,000 confirmed cases to date, putting in place measures to prevent the disease spreading further from outlying St Marc, Artibonite, the epicenter of the outbreak, to the Port au Prince region and other affected areas by the January 12th earthquake.
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Civil Protection (DPC), Internews is assisting Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Haiti, a communications coordination platform, to rapidly roll out a comprehensive public information campaign using radio, television, megaphones, sound trucks and community-based mobilization, to communicate messages about cholera and cholera diagnosis, prevention and treatment. In addition, Internews is helping to broadcast an SMS message campaign from the Ministry of Health encouraging Haitians to text "Maladi" to 4636 to receive health information via SMS message on cholera, free of charge.
Internews is producing special radio shows of its own ENDK, News you Can Use program that reaches up to 70% of the Haitian population in partnership with over 35 local radio stations. These radio shows carry information on cholera, symptoms, prevention messages, the evolving situation, and responses by the Haitian Government and its humanitarian partners. These two ENKD programs have already been broadcast across Port au Prince and have been rushed to St-Marc to air in Artibonite on local radio stations.
From Port au Prince and St Marc, CDAC is focusing on facilitating information sharing with local media, community outreach, and ensuring collaboration and support from all responders involved to the national communication strategy through the Ministry of Communication. CDAC Haiti is mapping the existing communications initiatives and capacity, identifying gaps and needs such as megaphones, speakers, radios and community mobilizers, as well as gathering approved messages on cholera treatment and prevention from the government.
CDAC, led by Internews in Haiti, is sharing all this information with the government, humanitarian organizations and local media in the affected areas and Port au Prince to ensure that messages transmitted are consistent, easy to understand, widely disseminated and approved by the relevant authorities.
“We know from past experience that unless someone is there to facilitate and coordinate communication, we will see inconsistent, confusing and possibly contradictory information going out,” says Imogen Wall, UN Humanitarian Spokesperson for Haiti. “All this is particularly important in this context as Haitians are not familiar with cholera and in environments like this misinformation and rumors take root very fast. In cholera epidemics, 80% of cholera patients’ lives can be saved through information: people need to know how to prevent transmission and identify and treat early symptoms especially if they are in remote areas where they cannot receive medical help.”