Making SCP newsworthy
"The readers of the papers I write for are mainly hard working families, struggling to make a living and longing for entertainment and recreation in their rare free time. So why should they be interested in something that is far away from their daily life and additionally seems hard to achieve? That is why sustainable consumption and production (SCP) never came to my mind as a source of attractive stories" says Rudy Hartono, journalist of Harian Surya Surabaya.
Rudy admits what many of his colleagues think about green environment and programs to save the planet: it is actually a very important and morally very right thing but if one writes about it, it will neither be read nor chosen by the editors in the first place.
The "Don't (just) recycle. Think first! Campaign" in Indonesia understood the problem: if they could not get journalists to write about sustainable consumption, how should the campaign spread among the public and show distinct effect?
The campaign is part of a nationwide action program launched by the SWITCH-Asia Policy Support Component in Indonesia to initiate the sustainability change in the country, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Journalist capacity building is one of the strategies employed to motivate the media in educating about and disseminating SCP issues.
Through an editor roundtable session, they discussed how SCP stories can make the news: what is the angle? what aspects are important? what are the challenges and marketing strategies to make SCP better sellable for media?
Besides training in the class, journalists in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Jakarta were also taken for a media tour to organic farms, eco-batik production, biogas site, plastic and electronic waste treatment centres.
It is a campaign that tries to get people to rethink and change their behavioural patterns and become fully aware of the causes of environmental diseases. "Sometimes it is like I got new glasses that allow me to see everything clear now", says Rima of Kompas TV after taking part to the campaign's activities.
Together with 23 other journalists, Rudy and Rima attended a workshop with field trips, where they could train their capability to show complex knowledge in catchy and attractive stories. Like the report on one local singer that shows a most fashionable reusable shopping bag made from a mix of different used milk and juice packages. "Why are you using this?", she was asked and she answered "because it's smart and beautiful, like I want to be".
Since the training in March, Tommy Apriando of Mongabay was able to publish more than 10 articles on SCP topics, and changed his own consumption behaviour, too. "As an example, I buy more local food now. It is healthier, it does not have to be transported long ways using up fuel and cooling energy, and it is supporting the people around here, which are my readers anyway. It is a good thing with no negative side-effects"
As a result of this training and discussion series, articles on SCP issues are starting to be regularly published and routine discussions on SCP issues are conducted under the own initiative of media outlets.
(Authors: Astrid Angloher, Christine Effendy)
(Editor: Silvia Sartori)