Three landmark environmental training courses devised by the Thomson Foundation have been translated into Arabic as part of a major push to guide and inform local journalists in the Middle East, on how to tell stories about the biggest issues facing the planet.
The work has been done in collaboration with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ). With the region playing host to the inter-governmental climate change conference Cop27 in Egypt this November and Cop28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2023, ARIJ hopes to drive environmental stories up the news agenda.
“Traditionally in this region the best investigative journalism has focused on political issues and corruption, and the environment has not been high on the agenda,” says Rawan Damen, the Director General of ARIJ. “We want to push them [journalists] to connect the environment with the misuse of power and follow the money as well as looking at how daily issues connect people with environmental issues.”
Environmental and investigative journalism experts from across the Middle East region offer their own tips and guidance across three courses called Environmental Journalism|Why Local Matters, which in turn cover Sources, Storytelling and Safety.
Traditionally in this region the best investigative journalism has focused on political issues and corruption, and the environment has not been high on the agenda
The Middle East region is warming twice as much as the global average according to a recent study*, but the situation is politically and economically charged not least because many countries depend on revenue from the production and export of fossil fuels: oil and gas.
Local journalists in the region have a unique role to play in changing the narrative around the world's environmental breakdown and becoming an essential part of the solution. Our series of free courses aim to help them achieve that in a constructive and informed way.
ARIJ is hoping it will also result in more cross-border collaboration on environmental storytelling and investigations.
Rawan says: “The momentum is building because politicians and decision-makers are paying attention to such stories and realising they need to do something about it because it’s a global issue. Whilst there are more pieces being done, the quality of them is not what we would like to see and so we want to raise the capacity to do it in a better way.”
The series of three free training courses aim to help journalists learn how to source stories effectively, improve their storytelling and also understand the dangers inherent to environmental reporting. It’s fast becoming one of the most dangerous beats in news given the hidden links to power and money.
“Many of the journalists investigating environmental issues are freelance or working primarily on their own. These courses offer valuable guidance and support in helping them pursue their stories," says Deborah Kelly, Director of Training and Communications at the Thomson Foundation.
Listen back to our Twitter Spaces conversation where we discuss how to push the climate crisis up the news agenda in the Middle East.