Mountains and Media
A Panos South Asia/ICIMOD Workshop
Kathmandu, November 13-16, 2000
List of Paticipants | Resource Persons | Agenda
There is no dearth of information on mountains and mountain issues. Unfortunately, much of the research and knowledge is generated by and circulates among experts and scholars; it seldom reaches the level of the common person who needs to know about this environment and who could benefit from or contribute to this wealth of knowledge. The libraries of academic and research institutions are crammed with literature on diverse topics related to mountains, but the information rarely filters down to the general public in a form that can be easily digested by non-specialists. This communication gap has been highlighted in recent years with advances in information technology. Today, there are technical devices and the means to connect even the remotest areas to sources of data and information, making any information scarcity seem even more pronounced. If centres of learning and research are to prove useful and serve their intended purpose, they must establish effective interactive channels of communication between the institutions and the communities where they operate. The Panos South Asia/ICIMOD Mountains and Media Workshop was organised taking this into account and was designed to improve the quality and increase the frequency of reporting on mountains-related issues.
The objective of enabling the flow of two-way information is to increase awareness and to foster informed debate. The media, which must play a major role in bridging the divide between sources of information and end users by facilitating public debate, can only be effective if it is itself informed. The rationale behind this workshop was to equip select journalists from the region with the factual background on mountain issues and to also provide them with an introduction to technology currently available to help disseminate this information to the public. Participants were encouraged to report on some of the issues following the workshop. But more importantly, the idea was to have a committed set of journalists with an understanding and appreciation of issues who could in future report on the problems of mountain regions and peoples, especially in the run-up to the International Year of the Mountains 2002.
The workshop brought together 14 journalists from South and South-East Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand) together with 7 resource persons (participants list). The specific objective of the workshop was to sensitise the journalists to issues relating to mountain regions and mountain peoples and to arm them with the necessary tools, information and contacts to report effectively about these matters. This was achieved through a combination of briefing sessions, tutorials, practical sessions and a field trip. Resource persons from ICIMOD provided the background on thematic areas such as the challenges of living in the mountains and sustainable livelihoods in mountain environments. The problem of reporting from and about mountains as well as an introduction of best practices in such writing, were handled by senior journalists based in Nepal. The peoples’ perspective was brought out in the form of oral testimonies of people from mountain communities across the globe in a Panos project that links to the IYM 2002. New media tools and technology, particularly their relevance to downloading and uplinking data and information (a problem faced by the media involved in reporting on mountain issues), was an important part of the workshop tackled by two resource persons.
The forum allowed participants to interact with a host of specialists in ICIMOD in addition to those attending as resource persons. The contacts that were established were to prove extremely useful. On returning home, many participants continued to query ICIMOD experts as well as other resource people (reporting on mountains in Nepal while not adequate is still far ahead compared to other countries) in order to complete and file their stories.
A major problem of reporting on mountain issues is the lack of access to information and data. Particularly for journalists based in the mountain regions, the problem of data scarcity, ironically, is even more acute. The Net has become invaluable in such circumstances and learning the necessary skills to access information has become a prerequisite to good reporting. The practical sessions on the Internet thus proved useful (although there were some who felt that the time might have been better spent concentrating on the actual issues in greater detail), particularly since the participants located many references while building an actual web page site. Participants also benefited from searches related to specific issues (problems of education in mountain communities, natural hazards in the mountains, for instance) while constructing the site.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
BBC Dhaka Office
35 Indira Road
HARI KISHORE CHAKMA
T Area, North Kalindipu
SIOK SIAN DORJI
P.O. Box 735
International News Dept
Beijing 100029, CHINA
Institute for Mountain Research and Development (IMRAD)
90-A (MIG 1st Phase)
49 FF, Defence Colony Market,
New Delhi, INDIA
SANAT K CHAKRABORTY
Editor, Grassroots Options
The Jakarta Post,
Feature Writer, Section 2,The Star
13, Jalan 13/6,
46200 Petaling Jaya, MALAYSIA
GPO Box 2371
GPO Box 5271
SYEDA WASIM FATIMA
111- Pak Block, Allama Iqbal Town,
20B Ram-intra 1A, Ram-intra Rd.
Bangkok 10220, THAILAND
41 Tughlakabad Instt Area
New Delhi 110062, INDIA
Drik Picture Library Ltd.
House 58, Road 15A (New)
Dhanmondi Residential Area
Dhaka 1209, BANGLADESH
Director, Oral Testimony Programme
9 White Lion St.
London N1 9PD, UK
Editor, Nepali Times
GPO Box 2371
GPO Box 2371
GPO Box 3226
GPO Box 3226
To increase awareness on mountain issues and to foster informed debate by ensuring enhanced coverage in the media about mountain areas and peoples. Specifically, to take advantage of the build-up to the International Year of the Mountains 2002 to increase the frequency and quality of reporting on mountains and sustainable development issues.
- To conduct a sensitisation/training workshop on mountain issues for 12 select journalists from the Asia-Pacific region.
- To sensitise participants to the need for media to highlight issues relating to mountain regions and to provide them with the necessary training to help improve their abilities to report effectively.
- To facilitate interaction between journalists and media and internet specialists as well as technical experts.
- To address information and data scarcity issues and accessibility problems for journalists based in mountain regions.
- To provide directions on locating sources for relevant studies, reports and data, both in libraries and institutions as well as on the web.
- To expose participants to examples of good reporting techniques.
- To organise practical sessions that help participants hone their skills in story development and information searches on different subjects relating to mountains.
- To take participants on a one-day field trip to observe some of the problems/successes of development programmes in mountain terrain.
- To establish a network of mountain journalists and mountain institutions.
- Articles - Participating journalists will write two features each for their publications.
- Reference Pack – A journalist will be commissioned to address the various issues relating to sustainable development in mountain environments in an essay as well as suggest relevant reference sources in the form of documents, journals, websites, institutions, libraries, etc. A preliminary reference pack will be compiled featuring this plus other articles and features on mountain issues as well as reference sources including names of relevant institutions, websites, journals/newsletters, etc. These will be "field tested" with the workshop participants and finalised after incorporating their feedback.
- Multiplier Effect – The finalised reference pack will be reproduced and distributed to the media in different countries so that there is a multiplier effect.
- Write ups done during the two practical assignments for possible publication.
- Networking – The workshop will facilitate networking among participants, resource persons and technical specialists at ICIMOD.