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AUT journalists to work on Pacific climate and Covid-19 news

In early 2013, Australia contributed $2 million to the Kiribati Adaptation Program to help improve the management of water resources, including village water supplies, through infrastructure upgrades, monitoring ground water quality, and improving sanitation to reduce groundwater pollution. © AusAID

Collaboration will ‘increase coverage of issues such as sustainable development and climate change’

Auckland University of Technology has received a $10,000 grant for its Pacific Media Centre to produce a series of multimedia reports and videos on regional impacts of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The centre will work with the Internews Earth Journalism Network, which was set up in 2004 to expand coverage of environmental news in developing countries. It has around 9,000 members, with journalists working in 130 countries.

David Robie, the centre’s director and an award-winning investigative journalist, said the collaboration with Internews EJN was a significant step for AUT’s environmental journalism programmes.

“The Pacific Media Centre has had long-standing initiatives with journalists and journalism schools, especially at the University of the South Pacific, such as the Bearing Witness climate change project and Pacific Media Watch,” he said in a university statement.

Sri Krishnamurthi, contributing editor for the centre’s Pacific Media Watch, will play a major role in the partnership with Internews EJN. He has worked as a journalist in NZ for more than 20 years and writes for Asia Pacific Report, an online news portal published by the Pacific Media Centre.

Imelda Abaño, content coordinator for EJN Asia-Pacific news, said the collaboration with AUT would support regional journalism and increase coverage of issues such as sustainable development and climate change.

“We wanted to build and achieve this with the Pacific Media Centre and the Pacific Media Watch freedom project,” she said.

“Under the remit of our EJN Asia-Pacific project, we’re open to partnership with New Zealand-Pacific groups and any media and journalist network groups that provide environmental news and information to communities in the Pacific Island and Asian countries.”

Abaño said the initiative came at a time when media outlets had “fewer resources and less time to report on environmental issues”.

“The editors are not assigning journalists to travel and report directly from the communities who are facing the brunt of sea level rise or displaced due to hydropower development and are reliant on press releases and politicians’ speeches for their stories.”

Abaño has been covering environmental news for more than 18 years and is founding president of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists.