What I Wanted to Say Was
I somehow found myself on the panel hosted by the European Broadcasting Union (whattt?) about Climate Journalism Thursday. One of our advisors from International Media Support (IMS), Henrik, asked me if it was an option to join them and things just flew from there.
I thought it was for the Generation Restoration project I helped create but apparently, it was for the climate strategy we submitted following last month's bootcamp in Indonesia.
Let's speed that truck up: IMS gave a few requirements we needed to submit following Indonesia and they made it into something of a game. The top four media outlets will be sent to the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, and what do you know. We were one of the four. I know right?!
This is the first piece of climate journalism I did in my life. I can't tell you enough how validating it is to learn it is a good example of climate journalism
Henrik didn't even announce the winners on email, not even on WA, so everything felt vague and hard to believe.
In Sweden, Henrik invited me to meet with the EBU folks on Zoom to prepare for the webinar and it didn't even feel like a dream because I didn't know I could dream that big? I couldn't fathom it. I should stop it, I know. But well, you know.
I arrived for the meeting and he introduced me to an Afghan reporter, who instead of shaking my hand, gave me some hand cream. It was too cold he said.
I left the meeting feeling like Henrik is something of a (fairy) godfather, because that morning. he had asked me to present to the bigger IMS group comprised of Europeans, Africans, and us Asians and I couldn't help but feel his overwhelming faith and belief in me. I'm not used to this kind of belief.
Anyway, during the webinar, it was surprising (validating) to hear the host say I was the winner of the strategy award. According to Henrik, we clearly had thought it through.
I wish I could say I demonstrated this clarity in thinking during the webinar but all day today, my mind was doing that thing where it thought up of better answers, wittier statements, shoulda woulda coulda.
So lemme use this little platform to hush the chatter and clarify, ugh. (Oh, so that's why interview subjects randomly call to, ehem, clarify what they said. Lol ok.)
What I wanted to say was OCJN grounded me in climate science enough to approach the investigations and the collaborations that IMS encouraged us to do during the bootcamp. The two training programs complement each other, and my biggest regret was not mentioning IMS enough. Immediately after the webinar, I apologized to Henrik because I kept yapping about OCJN and it was because of IMS that I was there. Ugh.
What I wanted to say was my current employers has climate high up our priority, and that they let me do what ever it is I wanted to do but that's exactly it. They let me do what ever it is I wanted to do. From my vista, it didn't seem to me we had a cohesive climate strategy. And that the strategy I submitted to IMS — the winning strategy — was also the strategy I had submitted to my boss that morning. It is now up for budget deliberation.
What I wanted to say as my parting words was two-fold. First was to echo something I learned from OCJN: That climate is an angle, not a beat. Second was to echo something I learned from IMS: That collaboration — between outlets, between formats, between desks — is key. Climate journalism doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Desks just need to collaborate.
What I wanted to say as my parting words was two fold: For reporters, to punch up with climate journalism. Make your editors listen. Prove to them it needs to be done, it can be done, that people want it done. For editors and the upper management, to not make the same mistake as your digital transformation. Don't dismiss climate to a small desk. It is the most important story of our lives. You can't grow your business on a dead planet.
What I wanted to say was that the Generation Restoration clip I showed abided by climate journalism's best practices. It presented the problem, it presented a solution, and we hired locals to tell the story.
Clearly, there is a big room for improvement. I'm still not the best at speaking and interviews. This is my first panel (with Europeans at that!), only my 3rd interview this year (following Myrza's podcast and the RX interview) and my prayer is that I haven't wasted my chance. That this is only the beginning. That there is more to come.
On the panel, I sat with Henrik (which made my blunders double embarrassing), Kat one of my mentors from OCJN, Anand from CBS Canada, head of World Climate Research Division of the World Meteorological Organization Dr. Mike Sparrow, and lead author of the Climate Journalism That Works report Alexandra Borchardt. Can you see why I was so nervous?