Reporting on Climate Change: Why journalists’ training is key

Kenya Editors Guild Council member and Radio Africa Group Digital Editor Francis Mureithi during the Climate Change Reporting pre-training in Mombasa./COURTESY

With climate change affecting not only day-to-day lives but also the economy, journalists need proper training so that they properly highlight some of these issues.

With this in mind, the Kenya Editors Guild in collaboration with German Development Cooperation-GIZ, and the Ministry of Environment organized a two-day pre-training workshop for journalists in Mombasa.

Speaking during the workshop, KEG Council Member Francis Mureithi said reporting on climate change was key in coming up with mitigation measures.

“Everyone has been affected by climate change in one way or the other. It has also impacted our social impact by how the heavy rains have displaced people in some areas,” said Mureithi.

Journalists were also encouraged to turn climate change stories into solutions-based and not just report on the problems.

“Climate change is a complex issue that demands our attention and engagement. Our once-predictable yearly seasons have been disrupted, underscoring the urgent need for action. However, too often, our media narratives focus solely on the repetitive devastation caused by floods without exploring potential solutions,” said Hamisa Zaja from Maji na Ufanisi.

“It is time we manage the news. There is so much to cover on climate change. Journalists need to be inclusive in their reporting,” she added.

Speaking during the workshop, Temesi Mukani, Director of Communications at the Ministry of Environment emphasized the need to build the capacity of the Kenyan journalist to report on issues of climate change.

“We are focused on enhancing the reporting and coverage of climate change stories. Journalists need to report factually and highlight policy gaps & climate actions while telling transformative stories,” said Temesi Mukani, Director of Communications at the Ministry of Environment.

While closing the workshop on Tuesday 30th April, Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura reiterated the government’s commitment to tackling climate change issues saying they will be working closely with journalists.

“We look forward to improving the relationship between government and the media. We are the messenger and journalists are the channel. You need to give both sides of the story,” Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura.

According to KEG Trustee Martin Masai, journalists need to take advantage of opportunities for collaboration in order to understand the conversation on climate change. He says this will enable the media do better focused and result-oriented stories that will change the world.

“As journalists, we are agents of change. We need to take responsibility for the future of our planet. Let us engage with policymakers to improve decision-making and ensure better action is taken to improve the status of our planet,” he added.

The main purpose of the workshop was to do a gap analysis on climate change reporting in the country and also inform the development of Kenya’s first-ever curriculum on climate change reporting.

The pre-training will be followed by the finalization of the curriculum, roll-out of a series of media trainings for journalists and editors.

Among suggestions by Mombasa journalists to bridge the gap in climate change reporting was prioritizing training & capacity building of journalists, grooming and mentoring journalist to build interest, and supporting collaboration opportunities between journalists & donor organizations focusing on climate change.