The need for Environmental Journalism

In the recent years, environmental issues have come to hog the limelight and are considered as the most important issues which demand immediate attention. The clear example of this is the Copenhagen Summit on climate change which has driven everyone’s attention on environmental issues especially on global warming. This growing awareness about environmental issues has proved to be a boon for the field of Environmental Journalism which is still at its nascent stages in India.
As awareness about the threats to the environment and ecology by the ever growing population, industrialization and emission of poisonous gasses increased, the media felt the need to educate people about the threats they face. A new breed of environmental journalists has cropped up to study and analyze all threats to the environment and ecology, and to convey these fears and their remedies to the people thus giving rise to environmental journalism.

Environmental journalists are nothing short of environmentalists. They advocate health and safety of the planet and are concerned with issues like population growth, sustainability, energy conservation, global warming, climate change, acid rain, destruction of tropical rain forests, accumulation of toxic wastes, disposal of all wastes, pollution of air and water and all other factors that contribute towards degradation of the quality of life.If we look at the history of this field then it can be observed that it is a post- independent phenomenon but it was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy which woke up the media and drove them to the path of environmental journalism. Narmada Bachao Aandolan also provided the fuel for the growth of environmental Journalism but here again the focus of media shifted from the core issue to celebrities like Aamir Khan who were associated with this.
The famous satirist and journalist V. Gangadhar says, “It’s high time, we realize the importance of environmental journalism. As the pollution level is increasing and forest cover is disappearing, environmental journalism is becoming the need of the hour.”
Unlike the western nations, where environmental journalism is given much importance, the growth of this field in India is rather slow. There are various reasons for it. Firstly, the environmental issues in India are so complicated involving corruption, unbalanced growth and lack of awareness that Indian media finds it difficult to take a stand on such issues.
Secondly, most newspapers are owned or controlled by corporate who have vested interests (share holding or advertisements) in other industrial set ups that it is difficult for the journalists to do justice to environmental reporting.
Thirdly, since the media is also concerned with profits, it plays safe by siding with the corporate.
Fourthly, only the urban mainstream media which have a touch of elitism cover the environmental issues and rest of the media tend to ignore such issues or take them for granted. While mainstream media will definitely send their experts to cover international conferences, their environmental journalists are limited to editorials and news analysis only.  “It’s a difficult subject and demands lot of research, that’s why it is restricted to the mainstream media,” says Gangadhar.
Thus, one could say that the future of environmental journalism is bright and environmental journalists can do a lot to educate people on the basis of deep study and involvement in the process of environmental studies.

Avani Jain

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