Media coverage of climate change in Africa
What’s missing from African media coverage of climate change?
African media can and should do more to tell the story of climate change, observes a new UNESCO publication, titled Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists. “This guidebook is part of UNESCO’s overall effort to raise awareness of the interdisciplinary core of climate change, and how journalists can reflect that in their practices”, says Fackson Banda, UNESCO programme specialist responsible for the project and editor of the publication.
“At the heart of this publication is a push for the type of climate expertise needed to resonate with African journalists and journalism educators – two important constituents for our work on capacity-building for specialized journalistic literacies,” Fackson adds.
The guidebook is written by four media experts who linked climate change and journalistic practice within the context of African realities. They are Mike Shanahan and Teresa Corcoran of the International Institute for Environment and Development, and Willie Shubert and Cameron Scherer of Internews/Earth Journalism Network.
Mike Shanahan, lead author of the guidebook, says that “climate change is not the story – it is the context in which so many other stories will unfold.”
He argues that climate change “… will affect every beat of journalism, from politics and business reporting to consumer and health stories. African journalists and their editors should not see climate change as ‘just an environment’ issue but as a new reality that will create growing demand from audiences for comprehensive, clear and locally-relevant coverage.”
According to the guidebook U the following are some of the challenges and shortcomings in reporting climate change and disasters in media reporting:
Fewer disaster narratives and more success stories highlighting how people are adapting, developing solutions and using new technologies that can limit climate change.
- More stories that demonstrate how climate change affects men and women, old people and young people in different ways.
- More stories that explain the causes, including climate change, of events such as droughts and floods.
- More stories that explain the human side of climate change and show this is a ‘development’ and ‘people’ issue, just as much as an environmental one.
- More stories about the business and development opportunities that climate change present.
Also read for a free guidebook on climate for journalists: Climate change: Glossary terms for journalists