Environmental journalism is yet to develop as a full-fledged field within journalism. There are a hundred stories waiting to be done but not enough reporters who take the trouble to work on them in depth. But environment and wildlife issues are gradually gaining greater prominence in the press and some stories are even making it to the front page or main news desk.
A degree/diploma in science and a course in journalism or science communication from a good institute would be a pre-requisite to work with newspapers/broadcast media. A background in wildlife and environmental issues and related laws (possibly through a degree in environmental science or through additional diploma courses) would be beneficial.
Read as much as you can about wildlife and environmental issues. Begin by building your portfolio by writing for local publications or making documentaries for smaller media houses. However, once you land a job, coaxing an article into existence will not be child’s play. It will often involve travelling to remote areas, being able to manage tough situations, often doing undercover investigations, negotiating and working with opposing campaign groups and through all of it, find the objectivity and the talent to present the piece in a way that captures both the Editor’s and readers’ attention but does not lose its focus. Regularly interact with wildlife scientists and naturalists who can help verify facts and provide vital information and news.
Environmental Journalism can be daunting at times, but it is an opportunity to truly make a difference. Above all, a passion for environment and wildlife protection is what provides the motivation to smell out a story and pursue it.
Though a number of colleges offering diplomas and degrees in journalism are available in India, few offer a full-time course in environmental journalism. However, workshops and specific modules on the environment are on offer, such as:
Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC) – Optional module called ‘Science and Environment Journalism’ – http://www.xaviercomm.org/
International Institute of Journalism & Mass Communication (IIJMC) – Module in semester III – http://www.iijmc.com/boj.html
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) – Certificate Course on the policies and practices of environmental management in India – http://www.cseindia.org/aagc/index.htm
A number of colleges abroad, particularly in the U.S. offer specific courses on environment journalism, such as:
Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado at Boulder’s – http://www.colorado.edu/journalism/cej/
Green University Initiative, George Washington University – http://www.gwu.edu/~greenu/
Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Michigan State University – http://www.ej.msu.edu/index2.php
With inputs from Bahar Dutt,
Environment Editor, Network 18