Thursday , 9 February 2023

We need to bring climate change reporting to the front burner – Jerry Sam

The effort to put climate change reporting on the front burner in Ghanaian newsrooms is gathering traction as journalists are now pushed to handle it on a regular basis, similar to how political news is reported.

“We shouldn’t wait for when conferences are happening that’s when we go to cover climate change. But we should go out there to do investigation and in-depth pieces,” Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Mr. Jerry Sam told JoyNews.

“The world including Ghana faces key problems as issues of climate change are putting lives at risk and making livelihoods even more difficult to secure. But most media houses and journalists are more focused on the short term — today, tomorrow, maybe next year.”

Mr. Sam says that newsrooms should focus on the long-term impact of climate change so that people are more orientated and informed.

“Prioritize climate change reporting in order to dispel disinformation and misinformation about the subject and draw the link between extreme temperatures, flooding, and people’s lives.

“There is so much misinformation and disinformation around climate change. So, we want journalists to be more knowledgeable about the area so that they will be able to dispel some of this disinformation,” he said.

According to scientists, the effects of climate change will be felt in decades or centuries. Stopping it requires immediate action. As a result, scientists, activists among others are employing a variety of techniques to capture the world’s attention.

Though countries have a goal to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half, and the global deadline to reach zero emissions is 2050, both dates often feel far away.

Unfortunately, some journalists are preoccupied with the present and the immediate future. But Mr Sam wants that to change.

He also wants newsrooms to have a climate desk and to specialize in the subject.

“Climate cuts through all areas of life,” he said.

Mr. Sam was speaking at the opening session of a three-day training workshop designed to help selected journalists investigate and write in-depth and compelling stories about climate change. Penplusbytes, in collaboration with DW Akademie, is organizing the workshop to expose, orient, and empower 15 journalists on the complexities of climate change.

According to Dr Martin Segtub, a lecturer at UPSA and facilitator at the workshop, every small effort from journalists in the battle against climate change should be recognized.

“Within the context of the challenges that we have reporting climate change, we need to appreciate the roles journalists play.”

However, Dr. Segtub believes that there is always potential for journalists to develop in terms of capacity building and engagement.

He states that reality, as supported by scientific data, requires Ghanaians to be cognizant of this and that no one should be left behind.

“We are witnessing the erratic rainfall patterns, we are witnessing extreme weather conditions, we are witnessing related climate induced illnesses, we are witnessing agriculture challenges in terms of low crop yield…,” he said.

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