By Brigitte Leoni
Manila - As the Philippines continued its recovery from Typhoon Hagupit which killed more than 27 people over the weekend, thirty representatives of journalism schools from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar met for two days in Manila to discuss how to integrate disaster risk reduction into training for journalists in ASEAN countries.
“Disaster risk reduction is not a seasonal issue that the media can only report about when there is an expected typhoon or other natural hazard “ said Senator Loren Legarda in her keynote speech at the Workshop on “Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction Reporting in Journalism Education Curriculum in ASEAN Countries” held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Manila.
Senator Legarda, UNISDR Champion and a former broadcast journalist, said that the media has the duty to create awareness and disseminate information about natural hazards and how communities can prepare and reduce risks.
“As a channel of information, the media has the responsibility to constantly remind so that preparedness and resilience become a way of life. DRR is not a seasonal issue. It is always timely and relevant,” she said.
Senator Legarda explained that media is a strong platform that can encourage action but to be able to effect positive action, a journalist must create awareness by understanding the issue.
“To be an effective communicator, the journalist must have a full grasp of a phenomenon’s cause and effect.” she stressed. “We need the heightened engagement of media in DRR and in reporting DRR to encourage a new way of thinking and doing our everyday business that prevents socio-economic losses, ensures genuine human development and creates sustainable and resilient communities,” she concluded.
Participants spent two days discussing the contents of what can be become the first syllabus on disaster risk reduction in ASEAN journalism schools. Representatives from Universities of Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Lao PDR , Cambodia and the Philippines explained how reporters were trained in their respective countries and how disaster risk reduction could be added in their existing curriculum.
“We need to respect national settings as the political situation varies from one country to another but we all need to improve the capacity of media in disaster risk reduction issues as disasters are part of our daily challenges,” said Ms Supaporn Phokaew from the University of Chulalonkorn.
The initiative sponsored by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), the Philippines Association of Communication Educators with the support of UNESCO and UNISDR will help more journalists reporting on the causes of disasters rather just on their effects.
“Myanmar will soon have its first journalism institute for working journalists and disaster risk reduction will be part of their basic training of reporters. There is a real need for reporters who are living in countries which are among the most vulnerable nations to disasters to know more about disaster risk reduction issues and this programme will help consolidate this knowledge,” said Ramon Tuazon, President of the AIJC.
In 2007, UNESCO developed the UNESCO Model Journalism Curricula consisting of a university bachelor’s degree (three or four years), a two-year master’s degree, and a two-year diploma program which is now adopted by over 70 journalism schools in over 60 countries worldwide.
The 2007 Model Curricula include prototype syllabi for selected courses including Science and Health Reporting which includes related topics such as reporting on the weather, reporting on pollution, and climate change and global warming. The proposed DRR reporting syllabus will include understanding DRR and climate change literacy indicators; DRR in relation to health and sanitation, food security, business and economy; journalistic tools and practices in DRR reporting; safety and protection of journalists, etc.
The South East Asia journalism educator network created at the workshop will now serve as a platform to lobby for the integration of disaster risk reduction reporting in the journalism curriculum in ASEAN countries.