Lao Mass Media Trained in Environmental Journalism

For five days in mid May 2014, Dirk Asendorpf of Die Zeit in Germany and Wasant Techawongtham of the Bangkok Post in Thailand have shared their expertise on environmental journalism with 27 of their colleagues from Lao print and broadcasting media. The training on 12-16 May, 2014 has been organized by ProCEEd in the Santhong District, Greater Vientiane Capital City Area because a local Lao-German project offered a field trip opportunity there.

 

The trainers have chosen an entertaining and interactive approach to involve the participants. They have blended technical inputs on climate change and environmental regulations in Laos with journalistic research and exercises related to news and feature writing.  Hands-on journalistic practices such as interview techniques or using different angles to a story have focused on the Sustainable Management of Watersheds in the Lower Mekong Basin project, a financial cooperation of the Lao PDR, KfW Development Bank, and the Mekong River Commission. The fieldtrip has been facilitated by the project implementation team of MoNRE and GFA Consulting Group, which has provided first-hand information on environmental topics such as afforestation or alternative livelihood activities. Workshop participants clearly have seen the fieldtrip as the highlight of the whole training.

 

“For most of us it was the first time to approach villagers and turn the information into a story” stated Manythone Koelangsy of KPL, the Lao news agency. “Before, we used technical reports on the same topics that we barely understood and which bored the readers” she continued. The feature she has submitted as a follow-up of the training is titled “Save Lives, Save Forests” and has been published by KPL on 29 May, 2014. It is about a 64-year-old model farmer in Santhong District, who has planted more than 40,000 tree seedlings on his land and advises poor families how a combination of forestry and alternative livelihoods can lead out of poverty.

 

The training has been supported by Vilaythong Sixanonh, the director of the Lao Institute for Mass Media, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Information, Communication and Tourism. DEQP and GIZ staff as counterparts involved in the ProCEEd project has provided logistical assistance. ProCEEd has initiated the environmental journalism training as part of its Environmental Education and Communication Strategy (EECS), which aims at raising awareness on environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and climate change issues through a wide range of national mass media and non-formal education activities.

 

According to a ProCEEd environmental awareness survey in 2012, the media – particularly radio and TV - are among the most frequented and trusted sources of information for people in Laos to learn more about the environment. But journalistic standards in Laos are poor and the survey revealed that mass media – in line with schools, teacher training institutes, agricultural and forestry extension services, and mass organizations – pay limited attention to the environment. Consequently, Lao citizens have not been sufficiently informed on current environmental topics such as the causes and effects of deforestation and what the Lao government is doing to address the related problems.

 

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ENVIRONMENTAL FILMS



You can now watch 12 professionally produced documentary films broadcast on LNTV in 2017. Three or four episodes of 15 minutes each make up for a mini-series that focuses on a specific topic, e.g. wildlife or forest protection. More films supported by ProCEEd and other GIZ projects are shown as well.

ENVIRONMENTAL RADIO



You can listen in to selected radio programs produced by LNR Khammouane in Thakek and Boualapha as well as by LNR Huaphan in Sam Neua and Houameuang. Some of them have even been translated into Khmu and Hmong language. Three 15-min episodes make up for a mini-series that focuses on a specific topic.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOURS



At the provincial and district level, Environmental Tours with entertaining environmental education activities regularly tour four provinces and Vientiane Capital. A bus and a truck using solar-powered equipment facilitate film, theatre and local learning and discussion initiatives. Don’t miss the tour!