At a time when the environment and climate change has never been so hot on the agenda, the role that the media plays in delivering such important messages has increased in importance. With such a realisation, the Department of New Media and Journalism organized a workshop on the 16th and 17th of May to educate students on reporting on environmental issues effectively.
The workshop organanised, which begun with an opening speech by the Department of New Media and Journalism Chair, Prof. Dr. Metin Ersoy, saw presentations by 3 Faculty PhD. candidates and the Director of the Laona Foundation, educating the participating students on how to report on environmental issues both effectively and ethically, and why it is so important to do so.
Bekcan: “As journalists, we Should Focus on the Process of Ecological Issues”
First to present was Research Assistant to the Department of New media and Journalism and PhD. Candidate Can Bekcan, who presented “Data Mining Visualisation in Environmental Journalism”. Presenting the importance of visualisation to the the audience when reporting on environmental issues, Bekcan spoke to Gundem advising “People do not care about ecological issues until it causes a problem in their lives. As journalists we should focus on the process of the ecological issues and inform the citizens of what these issues may lead to. The easiest way to show this process is via visualisation of all the events, to be understood by all people. During the workshop, our students learnt the importance of visualisation in reporting. I am happy that I had the chance to show an essential part of reporting”.
Aybay: “News Stories about Environmental Issues Need to be Covered by Journalists”
Following Can Bekcan’s presentation was Senior Instructor working at the University Public Relations and Media Office and PhD. Candidate Umut Aybay. In his presentation titled “How to Keep Journalism Above Deep Waters with Environmental Journalism Approach: Case Studies on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster”, he mentioned that mass media has a central role in the transformation of information about environmental issues to the public and policy makers. Stating that the most important element that emerges from media studies in the last half century is how the mass media approaches news stories and how it brings those issues to the agenda of the public and policy makers, in this case, Aybay presented how the journalists report in relation to environmental issues. Firstly providing a summary of the accident that happened on the 20th April 2010 at the Gulf of Mexico, Aybay showed satellite images of the oil leakage site at different dates in order to see how catastrophic the accident was. He then talked about how the oil corporations operating the site and BP, as well as the media institutions, reacted to the accident. He gave examples of news articles and columnists that did lobbying in favour of the oil corporations and against the government, meanwhile showing news stories of private media institutions that published news about the accident and analyzed how they were written. He also used the Internet Archive ‘Wayback Machine’ and showed the information and pictures he gathered from BP’s website from 2010. Concluding his presentation, Aybay stated that “news stories about environmental issues need to be covered by journalists who are literate about climate change, science and technology. The future environmental journalists need to be the influence to improve the quality of the planet and the future of our children”.
Erisen: “Language is Crucial in our Understanding of all Issues, Including Environmental Ones”
The third presentation of the workshop was carried out by Research Assistant of the Faculty of Communications and Media Studies Deans Office and PhD. Candidate Hanife Erisen, who is also representative of the northern Cyprus Laona Foundation Eco-Journalism Workshops and Activities. Presenting on “The Power of Language and the Representation of Environmental Issues in the Press”, Erisen educated the participants in the role played by language in our understanding of the world and world issues. The construction of the world in our minds is done via the means of language, and the ideologies they maintain. Erisen displayed that language is not innocent and after presenting the tools used in the construction of our meaning and understanding of events and issues, Erisen went on to show how it has been used in the construction of our understanding of environmental issues, explaining to the students how to be careful in the language that they use. “Language is not innocent. It maintains within it the ideologies and culture of each country. The media have a tendency to reflect such policies and thus, it is important that we as journalists ensure that the language we use reflects the situation at hand, in all its objective information, free of any ideologies. Even if the language seems normal to us, we should question the language we use and even the labels, to ensure that we are presenting the matter at hand effectively and with the seriousness it deserves, within our obligations as journalists and our duty towards the environment and the future of our children”.
The final presentation came from Director of the Laona Foundation Artemis Yiordamli, on the subject “Environmental Journalism: A Guide for Beginners”. The Laona Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that aims to contribute to the sustainable regeneration of the countryside in Cyprus and beyond. Within their efforts, the Foundation has organized bicommunal events that have included academicians and students alike from the Faculty of Communications and Media Studies, with PhD. Candidate Hanife Erisen attending every year. During her presentation, Yiordamli gave helpful advice to the participants on how begin reporting on Environmental Issues and how to deal with certain obstacles. Speaking to Gundem, Director Yiordamli stated, “Studying journalism and communications leads to many interesting careers, not only in the media and social media, but also as Press Officers for government departments, large organisations, political parties, and NGOs. Since we live in a global village, an understanding of the causes of problems and their impact on eco-systems is useful for journalists/communicators. It encourages them to think beyond a merely anthropocentric vision of the world”.
Exercises, Presentations and Certificates of Participation
Once all of the presentations came to an end, the participants were handed a small exercise from 3 scenarios they were to present the following day, as the day 1 of the workshop came to an end. The second day of the workshop featured the presentations of the participating students, each of whom gave the subjects justice and displayed what they learnt from each of the presentations they watched.
Following the presentations, certificates of participation were handed out by the New Media and Journalism Department Chair, Prof. Dr. Metin Ersoy to the participating students, and the day ended with a group photo. Participating student of New Media and Journalism Lore Bothate, stated that he found the workshop to be really beneficial and he’s looking forward to more workshops.