USP Journalism alumni receive grant for environmental reporting
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Two alumni from Fiji under the USP Journalism Programme, School of Language, Arts and Media
, FALE were amongst six recipients of a prestigious regional environmental reporting fellowship in March this year.
Journalists Stanley Simpson and Sheldon Chanel were awarded story grants from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) to conduct investigative environmental reporting in Fiji.
Stanley Simpson, Chief Executive and journalist of Mai TV was the founding editor of USP’s student newspaper and online publication, Wansolwara and has wide media experience.Sheldon Chanel is a consulting editor for Wansolwara and Freelance Journalist.
Sheldon said his focus would be to investigate the impact of overfishing and unregulated exploitation of undersized marine species in coastal areas around Fiji.
“I am passionate about conservation and this grant is an opportunity to explore an issue that impacts a number of communities in the country,” he said.
“I appreciate the opportunity to work with EJN, which is a renowned media development organisation in the world. I am fortunate to have access to the expertise available within EJN in the field of environmental journalism.”
USP Journalism co-ordinator Dr Shailendra Singh said the awards would allow regional journalists to focus on the environment, which does not get as much coverage as warranted.
“It is pleasing to see two distinguished USP journalism colleagues among the recipients. This is part of USP Journalism’s growing ties with EJN,” he said.
Last year USP’s Journalism programme hadreceived $20,000 from EJN to help boost environmental reporting in the region.
The EJN/USP Journalism project titled, ‘Adapting to and mitigating effects of climate change and island sea level rise’, involved journalism students conducting climate change reporting in the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands.
The journalism programme has won a number of national and regional awards for environmental reporting, including the 2010 Vision Pasifika Climate Change Media Awards by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Other recipients of the EJN grant for the South Pacific include Fiji journalist Luke Rawalai, Benjamin Kedoga from PNG, and Alfred Evapitu and Charles Piringi from the Solomon Islands.
The journalists would focus their coverage on the importance of mangrove ecosystems for bay conservation, impacts of logging on biodiversity and problems with capturing undersized fish.
According to the EJN, coverage was also extended to issues such as the displacement of marine life due to sea level rise, challenges faced by climate migrants as well as the illegal export of endangered and protected tree species.
“EJN provided funding in March this year specifically for coverage by South Pacific journalists as part of our efforts to deepen support for environmental reporting in the vast region,” EJN said in a statement.
Following a competitive call for story proposals, EJN selected the six journalists to receive story grants for investigative environmental reporting. The grants are part of EJN’s Asia-Pacific project. This is EJN Asia-Pacific’s second batch of investigative story grantees in 2020, and follows a round of grants awarded to another five journalists from India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Cook Islands at the beginning of this year.
“These reporters are currently working on their stories, despite travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some grantees who were not able to conduct field reporting as planned are now focusing on online research and phone interviews instead,” EJN said.
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