Today, news travels at the speed of light. Climate journalism has emerged as a form of science commucation, a way to spread knowledge and information on the climate crisis. However, the journey of sharing climate-related news is not easy. The climateXchange initiative shares key insights on issues and learning surrounding climate journalism in Southeast Asia.
Relatability & Audience Engagement
Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to the climate crisis. Therefore, journalists are responsible for delivering accurate and honest information on the crisis to the public. In the inaugural Global Climate Journalism Insights: Southeast Asia report, climateXchange shares key insights on climate journalism in Southeast Asia. ClimateXchange is the flagship initiative of Syli, a non-profit dedicated to supporting mission-driven journalism.
Based on the knowledgeXchange conference session attended by newsrooms from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the report has identified relatability as an issue in climate journalism. There is a gap between climate information and the audience due to the lack of regional collaboration, complex jargon, and challenging audience engagement.
Furthermore, in terms of audience engagement, newsrooms are also grappling with the ever-evolving digital platforms. Questions emerged on how to retain the audience’s attention across platforms, manage content across multiple channels, and utilize the right data to further improve climate engagement.
Press Freedom & Funding Dilemma
Press freedom is a fundamental aspect of human rights. Unfortunately, climate journalists still face legal risks while reporting climate stories. In 2021, Eco-Business reported that climate legal cases have increased by 185% since 2018 across Asia. According to the climateXchange report, climate journalists in Southeast Asia are often torn between highlighting the urgency of climate stories or staying ‘neutral’ to avoid legal repercussions.
The report also notes that there is a funding mode dilemma. Climate journalism has grown more complicated due to the risk of conflict between maintaining narrative integrity and following advertiser and corporate interests. The landscape still needs to develop a sustainable funding scheme that can maintain transparency and integrity while being financially secure.
Developing Safe and Sustainable Climate Journalism Landscape
The climate crisis continues evolving, and people deserve to know what has happened. Climate journalism becomes a key driver in disseminating information to the public accurately and honestly. Therefore, the landscape has to evolve as well.
Building and developing journalists’ knowledge and skills on the climate crisis, digital landscape, and storytelling are crucial to bridging the interest and engagement gap between information and audiences. Corporations, advertisers, and all key stakeholders must also integrate sustainability aspects in their operations to support a safe, transparent, and sustainable climate journalism landscape.
Editor: Nazalea Kusuma
Madina is the Assistant Manager for Program at Green Network Asia. She is an English major graduate from Universitas Indonesia with two years of professional experience in editorial and creative writing, researching, editing, and creating content.