Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia, in collaboration with British High Commission Kuala Lumpur and EcoKnights, recently launched the ‘PANAS! Climate Change Stories in Malaysia’ project which invites Malaysian journalists, writers and content creators to produce local Malaysian stories on climate change.
In the face of climate change, journalists play a major role to help accelerate climate action through advocacy and education. For most vulnerable countries, including Malaysia, the 1.5ºC warming limit reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is crucial as it requires major and immediate transformation. The role of the media in highlighting the impacts of 1.5ºC global warming on natural and human systems will support stakeholders and policymakers address climate change. This is done by providing local statistics, engaging stories and reliable evidence to affect change at a higher level. However, the potential of journalists still remains largely untapped.
In Malaysia, the main stories covered are often the intersection of climate change and natural disasters. The lack of understanding of climate science and its technicalities also attributes to the inability of journalists to link climate impacts to the public, as well as relating climate change coverage to high-level climate policies such as reports by UNFCCC, including the IPCC. As a result, these topics are reported only at the surface level which lacks in-depth analysis and reflection. The lack of reliable and trustworthy sources for interviews such as climate scientists and experts also results in repeated, one-sided viewpoints. While the nature of Malaysian media coverage tends to be reactive, when empowered, it has the potential to take on a more proactive role to inform, inspire and encourage all stakeholders to take action toward reducing the impacts of climate change.
CALL FOR ENTRIES:
In March 2021, SMC announced a call for submissions seeking to feature local stories, responding to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, particularly on the impacts of 1.5ºC global warming on natural and human systems, as well as strengthening global response to climate change.
The applications were assessed by the PANAS! project team comprised of Tan Su Lin, co-founder of SMC Malaysia and the project lead of PANAS! Project; sustainability and climate change expert, Dr Renard Siew; co-founder and editor of Macaranga, Dr Law Yao Hua; co-founder and chairperson of Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar and creative producer and curator, Kevin Bathman.
The successful pitches will receive RM500 each to produce a 500 to 700-word nonfiction local story, responding to the IPCC report.
Shortlisted journalists, writers and content creators were required to attend a media workshop via Zoom on 13 March 2021. The media workshop was also open to aspiring journalists and writers with an interest in climate change reporting. A total of 26 participants ranging from aspiring and veteran journalists, academicians/researchers, students and content creators gave their active participation throughout the full-day online workshop.
Speakers included Dr Renard Siew, sustainability and climate change expert, and Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar, co-founder and chairperson of Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), who each gave their presentation on introductions to IPCC and discussed climate change coverage in Malaysia. The second half of the workshop was a hands-on climate journalism workshop by Dr Law Yao Hua, co-founder and editor of Macaranga.
The aim of the workshop was for participants to:
- Learn from experts on how to write, report and create content effectively on climate change topics including fact-checking data, evidence-based reporting and considerations when reporting on climate change stories
- Learn about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and why is it important
- Learn and discuss the challenges faced by the media communities in the current climate change reporting in Malaysia
- Be part of a network of climate journalists, writers and content creators who are passionate about climate change and climate action
DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION HERE:
VIEW PANAS! STORIES:
In the face of climate change, journalists and content creators increasingly play a major role to help accelerate climate action through advocacy and education. A total of nine stories were produced in four languages, English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil as a result of PANAS!
The journalists, writers and content creators in PANAS! are Nicole Fong, Ashley Yeong, Poorani Kannan, Nimal Raj, Sunesha Munisamy, Dr Nur Hazwani Bahar, Rekha Sevaloga Nathan, Elanggo Munian and Lim Ann Gee. The articles and video materials were pitched and published in multiple mainstream media platforms such as Malaysia Kini, Astro AWANI, Berita RTM, The Vibes, Astro Ulagam, Oriental Daily and Weekly Echo.
|Bad to worse – Indigenous women hit by climate crisis|
To better understand how the climate crisis disproportionately affects women differently, this story looks at how the increased deforestation from logging and extreme weather patterns affects Sarawakian indigenous women through a social, cultural, and economic lens. And why we need women to be at the forefront of developing climate solutions.
Nicole Fong works on the intersections between climate justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and feminist economics, towards campaigning Malaysia to declare a climate emergency. As a researcher, activist, and content creator, she is working towards a just and equitable Malaysia where marginalised communities are liberated from systems of oppression, and can live with dignity, free from discrimination, abuse, and violence. They use their social media platforms as tools for advocacy to raise awareness on key issues affecting marginalised groups and empower people to take action.
Published on Malaysia Kini www.malaysiakini.com/news/57
Why are corals turning white in Malaysia?
This story highlights the vulnerabilities and the effects of the climate crisis on coral reefs in Malaysia. It delves into the reasons why our coral reefs need better protection and offers some solutions in restoring lost coral reefs.
In her final year of Global Studies and Journalism degree at Monash University, Ashley Yeong is following her passion for writing and telling stories to eventually secure a career as a journalist. Constantly looking for adventure, Ashley has lived on a strawberry farm in South Korea, built homes and volunteered her way around parts of Japan. As a nature fan, she has found herself increasingly passionate about sustainability and climate change topics. When not writing, you might find her exploring the underwater, wandering through unfamiliar places and attempting yoga.
Published on The Vibes https://www.thevibes.com/articles/lifestyles/27938/why-are-warming-sea-temperatures-bleaching-malaysian-corals-white?
|Are Malaysian fresh graduates in environmental studies ready to be part of climate change resolutions?|
Climate services help in tackling climate vulnerability. Malaysian environmental field undergraduates and fresh graduates are great assets for future climate services in Malaysia. Malaysian universities play a huge role in delivering solid messages, and the students can learn to communicate them. These efforts should continue and improve for a better climate-resilient Malaysia.
Poorani A/P Kannan is a final year applied biology degree student in USM, majoring in Environmental Biology and minoring in Psychology. Poorani’s interest and care for climate and environmental issues peaked as various exposures to the reality of those issues arose in her class discussions. Those realities she learned, paired up with her cultivated nature of knowledge sharing and critical thinking, drives her to communicate environmental issues and engage the public for environmental care. Being a good public speaker, an aspiring writer, a curious student and a sensitive striver, Poorani now aims to explore the world of Environmental Journalism.
Published on Astro AWANI (English)
Drawing parallels with Hindu Puranic stories, Prithvi (Earth in Sanskrit) is the story of mankind today, and how we have plundered our Mother Earth with unsustainable development. Prithvi uses the analogy of Bharatanatyam dance to reflect our current climate crisis, reminding us of the need to love and care for the environment.
Nimal Raj is a conceptualiser, composer and choreographer who has worked with renowned dancers in Malaysia. As a minimalist vegan, he aspires to create relevance of ancient art forms in today’s world. His unwavering love and devotion to the arts have led Nimal to pursue a Master of Dance Postgraduate Degree at the University of Malaya, hoping to raise social awareness through his artistic offerings.
Published on Weekly Echo
|Does climate change affect mental health?|
What is the link between climate change and mental health? This article explores how unpredictable weather driven by climate change affects our mental and emotional health.
Sunesha Munisamy is a graduate of Media Studies at University of Malaya. As an independent content creator and writer, she is interested in stories on the environment and protection of nature, and is working towards a career in environmental journalism.
Published on Astro AWANI
|Traditional rice is the key to climate change adaptation|
This story highlights the challenges the rice farming communities face, focusing on traditional and indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak. The story also explores some of the adaptation measures by these communities and potential ways to empower them and support their longstanding tradition.
Dr Nur Hazwani Bahar is a plant biologist with research experience in the physiology of trees and crops, aspiring to safeguard tropical rainforests. Currently, as a consultant at Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre, she coordinates forest conservation and restoration initiatives with local and indigenous communities in Perak and Sarawak. As a member of the Young Scientists Network – Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Dr Nur is also interested in finding new avenues to apply her expertise in broader areas of sustainable resource management and environmental conservation.
Published on Astro AWANI
|How a warming earth affects Malaysia|
This short video investigates public opinion, perception and understanding regarding climate change in Malaysia. It explains the steps that the Malaysian government has taken in tackling climate change. I also interviewed two subject experts on their view about the heat increase in Malaysia.
Rekha Sevaloga Nathan has 14 years of experience in news and TV program production, graduating from the University of Malaya in 2014 with a Bachelor Degree in Law (Bachelor of Jurisprudence). In 2017 and 2018, she won the first prize in Anugerah Media Kesihatan for excellence in scripting and video editing skills. Currently, as a news editor (Penerbit Rancangan B41) at Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), Jabatan Penyiaran Malaysia, KKMM, Rekha enjoys using her skills to contribute to the exciting news advances that happen every day around the country and the globe.
Published on Berita RTM’s Social Media https://youtu.be/qHBhZmbs5gE
|Impacts of climate change on outdoor workers|
This story explores the negative health and mental impacts of climate change on the B40 community who work outdoors. Through this article, several employees from various fields shared their experiences. Experts’ opinions from their respective fields were gathered as well, to put forward some suggestions to take care of the affected employees.
Elanggo Munian is a producer at Astro (Astro Seithigal) and has produced Tamil news for more than 8 years. Upon completing his degree in Mass Communication at the University of Malaya, Elanggo secured his first job at Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) as an editor for the Tamil news, and eventually, becoming a TV Producer to create special reports on a diverse range of subjects. Apart from creating and editing news, Elanggo was also privileged to talk on a daily broadcasted live programme by Astro (Vizhuthugal), as a news expert to convey and discuss current issues.
Published on ASTRO Ulaggam
|The things you don’t know about mosquito|
This story explores the relationship between mosquitoes, vector diseases and climate change in Malaysia through interviews with public health experts and a dengue survivor.
Lim Ann Gee is a Mandarin-writing journalist at Oriental Daily, covering topics on politics, parliament, court, government and national issues. Ann Gee is also a host for a Facebook Live Program called Oriental Cloud Talk. She believes in positive thinking and encourages others to work hard and succeed. Passionate about life, Ann Gee believes that “if you never try, you will never know”, working hard to achieve her dreams.
Published on Oriental Daily
Read more about the launch of PANAS! Malaysian Climate Change Stories and media release here.
The PANAS! Project has attracted high-calibre professionals to support the implementation of the Media Tool Kit, including from professors in local universities, experienced journalists and communications experts. Following the creation of these new stories, SMC will be launching a digital tool kit targeted at the local media industry, journalists, writers and content creators on writing content addressing the issue of climate change. It includes a glossary, a list of important resources such as local and international climate action initiatives, and potential experts/spokespersons for easy reference. As it is a working document, this toolkit would be regularly updated based on feedback from media professionals.
SMC would like to thank the Project Mentors in producing the PANAS! Toolkit:
Dr Fredolin Tangang, PhD
Chairman & Professor
Department of Earth Sciences and Environment,
Faculty of Science and Technology
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Dr Sally Brown
Deputy Head of Department
Department of Life and Environmental Sciences,
Bournemouth University, UK
DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT HERE:
“SMC lancar PANAS!: Pusat rujukan untuk isu alam sekitar, perubahan iklim“ – Astro Awani, June 2021
“‘PANAS! Climate Change Stories in Malaysia’ Project Launched” – The Petri Dish, June 2021
“Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia launches PANAS! Climate Change Stories in Malaysia” – Telum Media, June 2021
“Science Media Centre Malaysia launches Malaysia’s environmental journalism digital toolkit“ – Telum Media, June 2021
PANAS! TEAM MEMBERS:
PANAS! Climate Change Stories in Malaysia is funded by the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur and supported by EcoKnights as part of the ‘Communicating Science for Climate Action’ project. Led by Tan Su Lin, co-founder of SMC Malaysia, the PANAS! team members include sustainability and climate change expert, Dr Renard Siew; co-founder and editor of Macaranga, Dr Law Yao Hua; co-founder and chairperson of Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar; and creative producer, Kevin Bathman.
Tan Su Lin is a media and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in broadcast journalism. As CNN’s 2014 Journalism Fellow, she has won numerous awards throughout her career, with environmental and science-related topics as her areas of specialisation.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) combined with her experience in journalism, Su Lin co-founded Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia in 2020 to champion the importance of effective science communication and evidence-based reporting.
A Chevening Alumni with an MA in Environment, Culture and Society from Lancaster University, UK, she aspires to increase the environmental journalism pool and bridge the science communication gap in Malaysia.
Dr Renard Siew is Climate Change Advisor to CENT-GPS where he is responsible for advancing the organisation’s work in the field of climate change and sustainability. He is the Founder of Accelerating Climate Action and has served as Co-Chair of the Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management Working Committee and UNEP-FI’s Collective Commitment on Climate Action.
In 2020, he was appointed an SDG Champion-Climate Action by the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is a member of the WEF Expert Network Group, serves on the WEF Global Future Council, a Community Champion for Southeast Asia and a Global Lead for the Global Shapers Climate & Environment Steering Committee. He was accepted into the Forbes Fellowship Programme in 2018 and attended the inaugural UN Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019.
Renard is part of the facilitation team at the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL). He has also lectured and been appointed Advisor for various universities.
Dr Law Yao Hua is an award-winning freelance science journalist who is also the co-founder and editor of environmental journalism portal Macaranga, a portal covering issues of the environment and sustainability in Malaysia.
He reports on the environment and health for Science, Science News, and Nikkei Asia, among others. He is a 2021/2022 fellow of the Rainforest Investigations Network with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar is the co-founder of the climate justice group, Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY). She is an advisor to the Environment of Peace initiative led by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and also a research associate at the Institute Of Strategic & International Studies Malaysia in Water-Energy-Food nexus.
Her report on Coal and Renewable Energy Reporting in Malaysia published for Stanley Center for Peace and Security and Climate Tracker helped conceptualize some sections in this digital toolkit. She is dedicated to nurturing meaningful partnership, peacebuilding and strengthening constituencies across civil society for a people’s led climate action.
Kevin Bathman is an independent curator, cultural activist and creative producer who is passionate about advancing social change through creativity to create long-term social transformation.
With many years of experience as a Creative and Communications specialist, Kevin has led various creative activism projects using the creative arts as a catalyst for change. He devises platforms to showcase artists and changemakers who use their craft to enrich cultural identity, explore shared values and empower communities.
A Chevening scholar with an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths, Kevin has a keen interest in the exploration and study of diaspora and social movements, climate justice and political art.
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In Malaysia, science-related topics often take a backseat in the local mainstream media platform. It’s time to put science on the forefront by helping us to help our scientific community to thrive, including increasing the numbers of science journalists in this country.
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