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Ocean reporting

Dawn Gibson
Friday, March 28, 2014

JOURNALISTS who engage in ocean environment reporting — and any environment reporting for that matter —- need to understand the issues they are reporting on.

This was one of the key talking points of a panelist at yesterday's SeaWeb Sea Series Fellowship 2014 launch, Timoci Vula, who was discussing the panel theme The challenges of Covering Ocean Environment Issues.

"When it comes to reporting on this issue, it's not as sexy as other issues may be — it's so difficult to sell ocean or environmental issues when it comes to publishing these stories in the dailies," said Vula who is The Fiji Times chief of staff.

"But one of the ways that we address this is by encouraging our reporters to understand the issue itself and to explore the various other issues within the issue as a whole."

He said when reporting on such issues, it was important to understand that essentially everything about the oceans and the environment was directly linked to people's livelihoods.

"Ocean conservation is not only about protecting the ocean, it's not only about making sure mangroves are not cut down, it's not only ensuring that soil erosion or land does not wash away from our villages — it's much bigger than that — we have to convince our reporters that it all boils down to livelihoods.

"But you need to ask the right questions and you need to keep probing so they (scientists) can tell you (their research findings) in the simplest form, in the simplest explanations so that the grassroots people, the ordinary people are able to understand."

Echoing his sentiments was World Wide Fund for Nature South Pacific's (WWF SP) Theresa Fox who said journalists needed to realise that above all, people could relate to people and these issues were directly linked to livelihoods.

"At the heart of all of this work, the truth is that it's all about people. Journalists must look at it from the perspectives of the people, the communities, the economy, the nation and do not be lazy to go out into the field," Ms Fox said.

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