IWMF training offers ‘fresh insights’ into environmental reporting
Environmental Investigative Reporting Fellowship Program kicks off in the Philippines
Many of the environmental problems Marites Vitug covered 20 years ago still plague the Philippines today. But Vitug, a 1991 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner, hopes that sharing what she has learned over the years will help a new cadre of Filipino reporters to effect change in their country through the news media.
Drawing from her experience investigating illegal logging in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Vitug presented advanced investigative reporting techniques to fellows in the IWMF’s Environmental Investigative Reporting Fellowship Program. The year-long initiative, funded by Dole Food Company, Inc., was launched June 20.
During the first training workshop of the program, the 10 fellows heard from experts and seasoned investigative reporters like Vitug as they planned their initial investigative reporting projects.
View photos from the first training workshop.
View photos from the second training workshop.
Sessions on reporting techniques included tips on navigating open source data and finding passion for the environment, which remains a largely unexplored sector in the Philippines. Presenters included Miriam Grace Go, an investigative journalist and former Newsbreak executive editor; Abner Mercado, senior ABS-CBN host; and Roel Landingin, a Financial Times correspondent and investigative journalist.
“The IWMF training workshop is very informative, and each lecture by experts from the field offered fresh insights and a better understanding of how investigative reporting is conducted,” said Anna Valmero, an assistant producer with online magazine LOQAL.ph.
Valmero and the other IWMF Fellows discussed the absence of women’s voices and issues reflected in environmental reporting, and ways to cultivate women sources from all strata of society.
They attended sessions by government and NGO stakeholders, and received practical security tips from Red Batario, regional coordinator for the International News Safety Institute. More than 20 years since the end of martial law, the Philippines remains a risky place for environmental journalists, especially those in the provinces covering mining and illegal logging.
Dr. Laura David of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute discussed the science of climate change and implications of sea level rise on coastal communities. She explained that scientists are sometimes reluctant to talk to journalists because their work is always evolving.
Armed with guides, tips and resources, including how to use social media in investigative reporting, journalists will produce innovative reports about environmental problems and solutions, incorporating women’s role in and perspectives on environmental issues.
One fellow, Bernardino Balabo, put the fellowship to immediate use by producing an article for The Philippine Star about a presentation given at the IWMF training workshop by Ramon Paje, secretary of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Building on this momentum, fellows will complete at least three investigations for their news organizations within a year.
“I think (the training) would benefit not only myself but also my newsroom and our readers,” said MindaNews reporter Romer Sarmiento, “for the skills and knowledge learned from this training … would mean better environmental reporting.”