PASIG CITY, November 16, 2020 — To help strengthen the quality and quantity of environmental news coverage in the Philippines, the Department of Education’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DepEd-DRRMS) and the Association of Young Environmental Journalists (AYEJ) finished its online environmental journalism training for 100 campus journalists and school paper advisers (SPA) which happened from September 28 to November 14.
The Green Beat Initiative (TGBI) is a 6-week pilot intensive online environmental journalism training. It aims to equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue, develop, and report stories about the environment with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
DepED-DRRMS Director Ronilda Co highlighted how the training is an avenue to capacitate the youth to help address environmental issues, even at present.
“We’re always told the youth is the future. I believe that you are not just the future. You are here and now. Therefore, you have this space to engage,” she said.
The conduct of this training is in line with DepEd-DRRMS’ commitment to intensify climate literacy and support climate action in the basic education sector. DRRMS hopes to hone learners and personnel who are climate literate and proactive in championing resilient and sustainable schools.
“Through The Green Beat Initiative: An Online Journalism Training for Campus Journalists, we will focus on strengthening curriculum integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation using journalism and ignite climate action,” Dir. Co added.
Online learning approach
The first online training of its kind, TGBI employed an online learning approach where selected campus journalists and SPAs from Regions III, IV-A, and NCR engaged in both asynchronous learning materials and synchronous learning sessions over video conference.
The training was divided into two phases. The first phase consisted of the learning units covering the topic thematics on: “Media and the Environment: Why We Write,” “Grounding Yourself in the Sciences: What We Write About,” and “Writing The Green Beat: How We Write It”.
Every week, participants engaged in a video lecture by an invited industry expert, reading assignment, formative assessment, and guided activity which unpacks unit competencies for the week.
Guest speakers included renowned climate specialists and environmental journalists Imelda Abano, Founder and President of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists; Rodne Galicha, Executive Director of Living Laudato Si, Philippines; Jhesset Enano of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI); and Chevening scholar Renee Karunungan of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
On Saturdays, participants virtually met their speakers and facilitators to synthesize their learnings for the unit and present their outputs in their guided activity assignments.
Participants were tasked to cover local environmental stories and pitch these story outputs to different media publications to help improve the quality and quantity of environmental coverage of news stories in the local media outlets.
They were paired with mentors who shared their wisdom, industry experience, and technical expertise as journalists and environmental writers to develop their story.
Mentors for the training included Philippine Daily Inquirer contributors Raffy Cabristante and Jesse Madriaga, Visayas-based journalists Dave Albao and Keith Cari-an, and AYEJ pioneer member Esther Gillesania.
“With my new learnings, I want to be a part of empowering environmental journalism not only in our country but also around the globe,” said Arnie Justine Duran, a learner-participant from San Jose Del Monte National High School, Division of San Jose del Monte City.
‘The Green Beat Initiative’
This program is an innovative initiative that aims to capacitate student journalists to become young environmental storytellers in the hope of addressing the lack of environmental story coverage, hence—” The Green Beat Initiative.”
In journalism, the word “beat” refers to a specific subject matter that journalists are assigned to cover. It is also the in-depth reporting of a particular topic or field.
Meanwhile, “green” is associated with the environment and nature. Together, “Green Beat” is a term journalists use to refer to an environmental report or news and feature story.
“It’s about time that we mainstream positive environmental stories as a significant beat to cover for young journalists,” said Val Amiel Vestil, Executive Director of AYEJ, the training’s module designer and implementing partner.
AYEJ is a start-up media and environmental non-profit based in Cagayan de Oro City committed to enabling communities to be ecologically literate and proactive towards a more livable planet.
Founded in 2017 but formalized two years later, AYEJ has organized numerous youth-led online and offline environmental campaigns and has trained over 170 young writers across four cities in its flagship environmental journalism training-workshops.
It has also launched its website (www.ayej.org) which hopes to be the number one source for environmental stories for the youth, written by the youth.
Opportunities for young environmental journalists
Their completion ceremony is slated to take place on November 21, in line with the celebration of DepEd’s 4th National Climate Change Conference (NCCC), a week-long series of learning sessions during the Climate Change Consciousness Week.
Intended to elevate the discussion of the impacts of climate change on mental health and the actions needed to make meaningful change, this year’s theme is “Alpas: Channeling youth eco-anxiety to climate action.” TGBI graduates are exclusively invited to cover the pocket events during the NCCC.
Following the end of the training, completers will be inducted into the TGBI Alumni Community where they will be pioneer members of a network providing further resources and opportunities in climate change interventions and environmental journalism.
Training of Trainers
This pilot run also served as a training of trainers for the 50 SPAs involved to replicate TGBI in their high schools spanning divisions across Luzon including Bacoor, Cavite, Makati, Pasay, and Valenzuela among others.
Adviser-participant Helen Dimafelix from Pasay City East High School in Pasay City said the training has helped her become more confident to speak up and write stories that expose environmental abuse.
“My desire to become an Earth Warrior is soaring. I want the world to see that a teacher like me can be a voice that could rally from softness to fierceness when Mother Earth is in danger,” she said.
Moreover, Vestil shared that this engagement with DepEd-DRRMS is strategic and long-term as both are in the service of environmental education.
“AYEJ has reached a national scope this time around as it partners with DepEd’s DRRMS in its mandate to raise environmental awareness found in RA 9512 otherwise known as the ‘National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008’,” he said.
DRRMS is the Department of Education’s focal and coordination unit for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Climate Change Adaptation, and Education in Emergencies.
In accordance with its mandate, the DRRMS has set its goals and outcomes to address the risks and impacts of natural and human-induced hazards confronting the basic education sector.