Empowering Journalists for Climate Change Reporting: Insights from the XIM University Orientation Event, Odisha State, India

On the 14th of August, 2023, the second orientation for journalism and mass communication students was organized as part of a collaboration under the OSLO MET JMIC partnership.  Ranjan Panda from AAINA & #Youth4WaterIndia campaign, who is a JMIC partner in India, organized and led this program at the School of Communications, XIM University, Bhubaneswar in the state of Odisha in India. The orientation on “Climate Change & Human Mobility” was participated by 70 students and faculty from within the XIMU campus.  More than 35 participants joined online from across the country.   

The program was coordinated by Mr. Ranjan Panda and was chaired by Ms. Sneha Mishra, Secretary, AAINA.  Ranjan introduced the participants to the topic of climate mobility and also narrated the objectives of the workshop.  He said how the objective of the project is to foster long-term communication and engagement with young journalists who are interested in reporting climate change issues.  Then he gave a brief presentation on the research by Water Initiatives on the vanishing coastal commons in the Bay of Bengal that is fueling displacement and migration.  He also talked about the policy formulation needs for proper rehabilitation and support for these climate migrants and displaced peoples. 

The keynote speaker Mr. Richard Mahapatra, Managing Editor of Down To Earth, a leading fortnightly on environment and development from India, highlighted the need for understanding the migration issues from local level to global levels.  He also described how every movement of the vulnerable communities is linked to global climate change and asked the participants to report all these local cases as they are all global issues as well.  He also narrated about the need for highlighting success stories of adaptation.  

Prof Elisabeth Eide of Oslo Met joined online as a Special Speaker and asked the participants to visit the MediaClimate project’s website and get engaged regularly.  She highlighted how media spaces for real issues are shrinking and commercialisation is taking over these spaces.  However, she said, many youth movements/leaders have successfully emerged as ambassadors of science. Downsizing journalism won’t help. The objectives of this project, that involves our India partner Ranjan Panda, is to impart proper orientation to young journalists and students on the real climate crisis as well as promote youth-led initiatives on climate adaptation.  

Dr. V. Vijay Kumar, Dean, School of Communications, XIM University, expressed his happiness that this school/University was chosen for this training and he thanked the organisers.  He also asked the students to stay in touch with the organisers, the campaign and the experts and keep the learning process on.   

Ms. Sneha Mishra, in her final words as Chair, thanked OSLO MET for the support and also thanked the Resource Persons as well as Lead of the program Mr. Ranjan Panda, who is popularly known as Water Man of Odisha and a Climate Crusader in India, for his constant drive to increase climate change education and awareness for more than three decades now. She urged upon the students to stay in touch with the #Youth4WaterIndia campaign and avail more such training opportunities.