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Role of Journalist in targeting environmental issues

By:

Ng Chee Kar 204984

Neoh Shi Ling 203501

Ooi Huey Ying 203768

1.0 Introduction

There is a theory called the System Theory proposed by Millers in 1978, stated that every being in this world lives in an open system which means every living being coexist with each other, and depend on each other to survive. Which also includes the interaction between human being and the environment. However due to the rapid development of the world, day by day human being are becoming more selfish for what they desire that they would harm the environment and completely forgotten about the role of the environment plays in this living system. In Malaysia itself, the water pollution issues are now at 6.79%. As such, journalist plays an important role in targeting this issues, the role of journalist is to investigate the cause of the environmental issue, to educate the public on how to take care of the environment and finally, to inform public about new green technology.

2.0 Investigate the reason behind the environmental issues

There are a lot of environmental issues like pollution and deforestation in the country and yet no one knows the reason behind it. Could it be a party that is at fault by intentionally creating pollution or a natural phenomenon that just happens by chance? The answer to all that is through investigation. Journalist have a role by investigate the cause of the environmental issue and uncover the truth behind the issues so that the community would know what is happening around them and provide suggestions to rectify it. For example, news reports ”Rivers important part of city landscape” from The Star on November 6th, 2008 reported by Steven Oh. The journalist investigate the source of pollution in Sungai Juru and he discovered that the residence have been treating the rivers like drains, lack of river management, and illegal sewerage.

There are a lot of ways for a journalist to conduct an investigation. A journalist with the motive to uncover the truth, he/she must be at the scene to clearly see and identify the problem of the area. Furthermore an interview is a must to get perspectives and also to get the truth from the people around the crime scene. Interviews also assist journalist in identifying the 5W1H of the investigated issues. Aside from that, journalist as well needs to consult professionals to get more objective perspectives from experts. Expert’s point of view could not just provide a professional answer to the journalist’s questions but also to foster an unbiased report from the journalist. As the expert’s opinion is a solid, all approved facts. Also not to mention the credibility of the report will be if it contains the expert’s testimony. For example, in the “ ‘Greyjing’? Air pollution fouls Beijing’s name” article published in The Star on July 30th 2012. The journalist investigates the air pollution issues in Beijing by conducting numerous interviews with foreign residents, Beijing-based executive and sales consultant. Furthermore, he also conducted an interview with Beijing’s health officials to obtain the statistic and data in order to increase the credibility of his investigation.

The reason for the journalist to conduct such an intense investigation about environmental issues is not to find fault, but to provide the truth. As a member of the community we have the right to know the truth of what is happening around it and us is the duty of journalist to sheds light and uncover the truth, to inform the community what is happening around them as per se. Aside from uncovering the truth, journalist report for the sake of the community thus journalist to need to provide suggestions in order to rectify the problem.

In a nut shell, the role of investigation is to uncover the hidden truth behind those environmental issues, and by investigation, the journalist need to gather material by be personally there, conduct interviews and consult experts to come out with a non-partial report. The purpose of it is to inform the community what is happening around them and also to help the community in rectifying the problem by providing suggestions. Lets take back the example from the article “Rivers important part of city landscape.” The journalist, identify the river pollution problem in Sungai Juru, so he conducted an investigation, by being physically there, interview with the local as well as the government body to uncover the truth and finally he provides solution like suggesting both state and federal governments need to get involved and provide the funding for cleaning up the rivers. It has been a neglected priority.

3.0 Educate the public about ways to take care of the environment

“A disaster is no time to be making new friends,” says Mark Schleifstein, environment reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune. Thus, journalists have to be aware all the time to get the newest news for their audience. How do they gather information from the environment issues that happened everyday? Of course there are ways, for example, through a scientific research or study that done by scientists. There is a study about belly button since two years ago and it was an idea from an undergraduate’s only-in-a-biology-lab idea. The idea then struck a chord with the North Carolina State University team and they started the study. In this case, the journalists gather the information for the study from the result of the study.

To educate and convince the public, the journalists also interview the scientist, Rob Dunn and his team about the project named “Belly Button Biodiversity”. In the article, the journalist also included the information and result that found out through the study. This helps the audience to get basic information for the belly button research. At the end of the article, the writer stated also the project study was published November 7. This helps audience to get more information.

We all know that a journalist has to rush here and there when there is something happened. However, journalists have to read to improve their writing skills and also gain extra knowledge. Through reading different materials, they can gain information and share with their audience. For example, the article wrote by Juli Berwald for National Geographic News. The article is about the climate predictions, and the writer gets the knowledge and information from journal of science.

The study published after the research being done. However, in this article, the writer did not interview the researchers to gather information and knowledge. Instead, he read it. He read it from the journal and he shared his knowledge and information in this case with his audience through his writing. The story he picked is exact time with what is happening nowadays. Audience is really concern about the climate and weather and his article is good enough to educate them in this career.

We were taught to take care of our environment since we were born. But why the journalists still published so many news and articles about environment? Other than educate the public on how to take care the environment, they also have to responsibility to tell us why shall we take care of the environment.

For example, most of the audience only worry about the climate changing may make them feel uncomfortable, may be too hot or too cold. But do they know that it also brings impacts to coffee? Yes, may be for only a small group of them. Thus, the journalists play an important role in this. There is an article about the price of coffee will raise and the quality will be lower due to the climate changing. What would life be if without coffee?

To convince the audience the consequence will be serious, the writer get voices from some people with high credibility in this career. For example, Aaron Davis, head of RGB Kew’s coffee research program. Audience may be doubt whether the writer just simply to write the consequence of the climate changing if there are no proof. Whereas, with the words from the credibility man, the article becomes much stronger in persuade the audience. That is why the journalists interviewed the researcher, the director who is related to the task there are working on.

We can write and describe something in the touching and trustable way when we face it ourselves or it really happened on us. That is also why journalists are asked to attend to certain places to write their news or articles. For example, auroras we heard of it for such a long time. But, in reality, how many of us seen it before with our own eyes? Or even the best shoot of the auroras. We can see it and read it through a good journalist writing and shooting skills. There is a photographer Zolten Kenwell, who went to Canada and took the photo of the auroras.

He then published a beautiful photo of the aurora without much word describe to it. However, audience can at least enjoy seeing the photo, which is real. Thus, it is important for the journalists to take the real photo to attract their audience.

To educate the public on environment, good writing skill is not enough for a good journalist. They need some extra skills and knowledge to produce a work, which is attractive and really useful for audience. For example shooting skill and communicating knowledge. With a good shooting skill, he can take a best shot on auroras but he could not describe it in the beautiful way and vice versa. Without good communicating skill and knowledge, a journalist cannot communicate well with the interviewee and will not gain enough information or may get the wrong message in between them. Thus, reading, writing and practicing are important to a journalist, especially when they wish to write something that bring knowledge and educate the audience.

4.0 Inform the public the latest green technology innovation

Green technology means that the technology which is environmental friendly, developed and used in such a way so that it doesn’t disturb our environment and conserves natural resources. Green technology can reduce the issues of environment caused by pollution in some subject area such as energy, green building, environmentally preferred purchasing, green chemistry, and also green nanotechnology.

Public usually know the information of green technology through mass media such as television, internet and also maybe through the launching ceremony of product under branded which is actively in green technology such as Honda, LG and others. However, is it any roles of journalist take in delivery the information of green technology to public?

There are many environmental friendly or green-tech campaign has been proceeding and explore as an impact because of the seriousness environmental issue. Environmental journalism sharing the issues of environment that caused by pollution especially affect by human beings behavior in daily life. Environmental journalism is also informed public about the new green technology and also promoting the importance of environmental caring and the way to protect our environment. In Singapore, one of The Star’s journalist named Thean Lee Cheng win the awards at the Siemens ASEAN Green Technology Journalism Award among 10 journalists in South-East Asia. She came out tops in Energy Efficiency category for her report Going Green that focused on companies adopting green technology and staying profit driven. Thus, we can see that those journalists make great efforts on environmental journalism in introduce the green technology.

Environmental journalism not only highlighted the innovation and advancement of the green technology that new launching but they are also provides some suggestion, opinion and even though criticize toward the new innovation. Those journalists get the opinion and also maybe criticize from research, interview and maybe demonstrate that done by experts. It may give the side opinion and support to public, which are interested in using the green technology. With the evaluation of green technology from environmental journalism, public can more understand the importance of green technology for solving the environment issues and also the suitable way using green technology.

Environmental journalism has made great efforts on making the environmental journal for inform and make the awareness of public about the environmental issues. Besides that, journalists are also sharing the news and information about the green technology to public, it may balanced the information flow especially information about green technology among the society. The Siemens Green Technology Journalism Award has been set up and was the first of its kind award in ASEAN with recognizes and rewards journalists who have reported on Green Technology, Sustainability and Environmental issues in ASEAN countries. This is great news and motivation for those interested in writing environmental journal and it also can be encouraging public to concern about the environment issues. Public also can get more information about the new green technology.

In Malaysia, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water have organized an environmental journalism “Green Journalism”. Green journalism is the submission materials are articles that portray green related products, equipment, technologies, and systems, applications that satisfies certain criteria such as environmental friendly and increase the quality of environment. Beyond that, The Best Green Journalism Award is also ongoing with two categories as Malay newspaper and English newspaper.

Environmental journalism is very important; it is a bridge between state and federal government, and also between governmental and non-governmental institutions to deliver the current issues and condition of the environment to the government and also public to make the awareness. Besides of sharing the issues of environment, journalists also introduce and inform the public about the new green technology. By reading newspaper and journal, I believe that public can get the information of green technology with more faster and details compare with accessing media electronic especially for the senior citizens. Environmental attitudes should become a collective behavior for make it successfully in a society. Environmental journalism can help the senior citizens even though public who can’t accessible to media electronic such as computer and television to understand the issues environmental and also the information of the green technology. Supporting and using green technology is one of the methods for increasing the quality of environment and reduce environmental issues.

5.0 Summary

In a nutshell, the environment has a pivotal place in our life. Like a interconnected system, when the environment is destroyed, the life of human being will not be sustainable as well. As such, a journalist, as the truth investigator and the change agent, it is their duty to investigate the cause of these environmental issues and report it to the world, to educate the knowledge of how to take care of our environment, and last is to inform the public so that they are up to date in knowing the latest green technology that is beneficial to the environment.

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This entry was posted on December 9, 2012 by in Journalism Essay.
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