Green Journalism: Environmental Reporting in Developing Countries

A major challenge in developing countries is balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability. According to the Millennium Development Goals, which the United Nations outlined in September 2000, achieving such a balance can help ensure political stability and promote a country’s peaceful transition toward democratic governance. The local media in these transitioning countries can play a critical role in holding government officials, corporate leaders, and other individuals accountable  for their environmental records by  collecting information  from governments’ planning documents, reports on local environmental conditions, and pollution records. By providing accurate, high-quality environmental reporting and engaging the public in a policy dialogue, independent media can also help citizens protect their own environmental interests, including improved access to clean and affordable water and energy services.

Do local reporters in developing countries have sufficient training to produce accurate news and information about the environment? If not, what are donors and implementers doing to help journalists cover the environment more effectively? How can stakeholders improve the quantity and quality of environmental coverage, and what are the most effective strategies to ensure the editorial independence of reporters from governmental and financial pressure? How do these environmental reporting programs contribute to empowering indigenous, independent media? How do they fit into the larger issue of improving good governance?


Sanjeev Chatterjee
Professor, School of Communication
University of Miami

Jon Sawyer
Executive Director
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Rob Taylor
Director, Science & Environment Programs
International Center for Journalists

About the Panelists

Sanjeev Chatterjee is a documentary filmmaker and professor at the School of Communication at the University of Miami. During his college years in the 1980s, Chatterjee abandoned his dreams of joining the commercial Bollywood cinema in India to become a documentary filmmaker. After spending time making documentaries about rural India, he came to the United States for higher studies. Chatterjee’s work has been seen on Doordarshan (National television in India), National Geographic, PBS, and the History Channel. His films are about global topics that include diaspora communities, peacekeeping, and the environment. His awards include the King Award (Best of Festival) from the Broadcast Education Association’s Media Arts Festival, as well as other awards from the Film South Asia Festival, Vermont International Film Festival, and Silver State Documentary Film Festival. His latest work, “One Water,” which he wrote, produced, and co-directed is about the global water crisis. “One Water” has collected top awards at international film festivals including Cinemambiente, Artivist, Foyle, and Ecovision.

Jon Sawyer is the founding director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization that funds independent reporting with the intent of raising the standard of media coverage and engaging the broadest possible public in global affairs. In its first three years, the Center has funded more than 80 reporting projects in four dozen countries, partnering with major newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets. Sawyer has overseen the Center as the principal supplier of video documentaries for the public-television program Foreign Exchange and creator of the innovative educational outreach program called Global Gateway. The Center’s Water Wars project combines original reporting from east Africa and an ambitious interactive web portal.  Sawyer was previously the Washington bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for which he reported from 60 countries.

Rob Taylor is Director of Science and Environment Programs for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a Washington-based non-profit that trains and helps journalists to do better and more in-depth reporting in countries all over the world. Over the past eight years, Rob has directed and run environmental journalism training programs in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. He has set up and conducted environmental journalism competitions in Mexico, Belize, and the Caucasus region. He has also run a series of workshops with the U.S. National Institutes of Health to educate medical and health journalists in Latin America. Taylor worked as a reporter for three decades for the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Oren Murphy is the regional manager for Internews in Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok. He oversees Internews programming in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and other countries in the region, including the Earth Journalism Network (EJN). EJN, which has been expanding since 2004, works to improve the capacity of local media to report on the global phenomenon of climate change, as well as on specific environmental challenges facing the region, especially urban planning and adaptation, water and marine management, and deforestation issues. Murphy has spent nine years working in the region on media, conflict mitigation, and development, and has worked on some of the region’s most important emergencies, including post-tsunami Indonesia, as well as efforts to engage and build a truly indigenous media and information network for Burmese people and diasporas.