Survey on the Quality of Environmental Journalism in Laos

ProCEEd has been supporting environmental journalism in Laos through sustained human capacity development, training and coaching since 2013. For four years, the project trained and coached journalists from Lao National Radio (LNR) and Lao National Television (LNTV), and produced a total of about 150 environmental features with LNR and 80 with LNTV. In cooperation with Vientiane Times and Paxason, more than 40 articles on environmental issues were published.

In spring and summer 2017, the project conducted a survey regarding the quality of environmental journalism among 41 government, academic  and civil society stakeholders working in the environmental sector in Vientiane, Khammouane and Houaphan. The results show that the content of the radio and TV features produced by ProCEEd partners improved significantly over time. More than three out four stakeholders (77%) confirm an improvement of environmental journalism, and almost half of them (44%) followed ProCEEd-supported environmental features on the radio, on TV or in newspapers. More than one third of them (37%) listened to the Our Environment magazine on the national channel of LNR which has been continuously coached and supported by ProCEEd. Stakeholders remembered specific features related to forest protection, biodiversity, wildlife and various other environmental topics that they heard, saw or read.

 

More specifically, respondents noticed improvements concerning the content, writing technique as well as improved presentation styles of speakers, language, and pictures used. Some of them mentioned that more interesting environmental issues were brought up, and that these were better researched and explained. The information sources stakeholders in the environmental sector primarily use are newspapers (24%), followed by MoNRE (17%) and the internet (15%). The media read, watched and listened to more than five times are Vientiane Times (50%), LNTV (28%), and LNR (27%). An increase in quality was regarded highest with LNTV as 5% of respondents observed an 80-100%  improvement. In the case of LNR National and LNR Houaphan 13% of respondents stated a 61-80%  improvement.

 


The overall results of the survey clearly show that the efforts of ProCEEd to improve environmental journalism in Laos have been successful. A survey on environmental awareness in Laos, which was also carried out by ProCEEd in 2016/2017, confirmed these findings by stating that ProCEEd-supported media have led to increased environmental knowledge and improved envi
ronmental attitudes among target groups. Media users felt better informed than non-users about climate change (+21%) or the extinction of animals and plants (+15%). In a seminar on Environmental Education and Communication in Laos on 5-6 Sept, 2017 in Vientiane, the ProCEEd media coordinators, Vannaphone Sitthirath and Sysomphane Sengthavideth, concluded that their "capacity development investments resulted in a new generation of environmental journalists. At the provincial an
d district level, low technical skills often went along with a high motivation." But they also issued a cautious note, stating that "the new, outdoor and interactive formats introduced by ProCEEd need to be maintained and practiced to become part of Lao media’s corporate culture." During the seminar, Sysomphane and Moua Yachitho of the World Conservation Society warn that well-trained journalists with opportunities to market their skills for commercial purposes often lose interest in environmental topics. According to Sysomphane, another obstacle is that "some journalists are unwilling to leave their studio's comfort zone and invest energy and time in getting to the source of good stories and interviews."

 

ProCEEd has helped generate a young generation of well-trained environmental journalists who are ready for the future. They have been trained to collect factual environmental information from reliable sources and make their audiences understand how sustainable livelihoods are related to a healthy environment.

 

 

 


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