Accuracy the key in climate change reporting, student journos told

Sarika Chand ... Pacific journalists have better understanding of climate change impacts because they live with them. Image: Wansolwara

By Abishek Chand in Suva

Student journalists of the University of the South Pacific have been reminded about the threat of climate change and the need to report the issue accurately and consistently.

The comments were made by communications officer for the university’s Pacific Centre for the Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) Sarika Chand at the latest Wansolwara Toks on environment reporting.

Chand said scientific research had established beyond any reasonable doubt that climate change was real.

Chand, a USP journalism graduate, said that in general Pacific Island journalists were more accepting of the facts regarding climate change — unlike some of their Western counterparts who were more sceptical in the past.

She said this was possibly because the effects of climate change were felt more acutely in the Pacific region.

The regional media was more advanced in its reportage in this area, especially when reporting on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific, she said.

Countries like the United States had a long history of denying climate change and elements of this were reflected in how the US media framed the issue, she said.

Many impacts
Chand outlined that climate change impacted on the region in many ways, such as food security, health, ecosystem, water, culture, language and identity, together with extreme weather events.

She stressed the need to keep up to date with news sources as research on climate change was frequently updated.

She said that not enough reporting was being done on the health sector.

Culture, language and identity were other aspects that should be covered more often by the media, she stated.

PaCE-SD was actively researching climate change and offering postgraduate studies on the subject. With the courses that the centre had on offer, a pool of local scientists with a deeper understanding of the region was growing.

Many students who had graduated from the PaCE-SD programmes were well placed in the climate change sector in the region, and had already started making contributions to research and scholarship in the Pacific.

A final year USP journalism student from Tonga, Linda Filiai, said the forum was very interesting and educational.

“The media should  highlight the impacts to ensure Pacific islanders are more aware and also to get the attention of leading countries to address the problem,” she said.

Abishek Chand is a Wansolwara student journalist.

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