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For Chad de Guzman, journalism is all about the people.
“This sounds cheesy as hell,” he admits to me, grinning, “but I love people. I love people stories. I love the idea of uncovering or discovering the humanity in everyone, and the mistakes that people make.”
Chad is a Senior Digital Producer for CNN Philippines, where he manages the editorial content for the website and social media platforms, and oversees video production for both broadcast and digital.
Although climate change was something he was aware about, Chad had never tackled it seriously in his journalism before.
This year, the journalist-cum-producer took part in a Climate Tracker training, where he was trained on the fundamentals of climate reporting. For Chad, the experience was invaluable. Not only did it give him a chance understand the science behind climate change, but it also urged him to find the human side of climate change.
“A lot of people have this perception that climate change is a scientific story that is filled with jargon. But it’s a matter of finding its direct impact on a person, on a family, and on a community,” Chad says.
So that’s what Chad focused on in his final piece for Climate Tracker, where he explored how efforts to shift to renewable energy in the Philippines may be backfiring on consumers.
“We are being robbed because the prices of renewable energy tariffs in the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 did not adjust to the times. People are saying renewable energy is expensive, and that’s why we cannot shift. But in reality, the prices of the global market are the baseline. We are robbed of electricity,” Chad explains.
Since then, Chad has produced several pieces for CNN Digital on climate change. These pieces include Duterte’s position on the U.S. pullout from the Paris Agreement, an overview of how the Earth is at risk of becoming ‘hothouse,’ and the killings of environmental defenders in the Philippines.

Photo by VJ Bacungan

With an eye for creative visuals and multimedia, Chad hopes to be able to eventually use the digital space to explain climate issues to the public.
“When it comes to climate journalism, we tend to produce hard news, we spit out facts, but no one takes the time to explain it — to look at the bigger picture and play it out.”
“There is a plethora of information right now. A lot of people can get overwhelmed by facts,” Chad explains, likening consuming the news to eating a meal.
“When you eat a meal, it matters how it is presented to you, so you can eat it properly. It is the same way for journalism.”
Right now, creative visualisation of current affairs are dominated by American-based outlets such as Vox and The New York Times. But for Chad, there’s no reason that these interactive explainers can’t be done in the Philippines and the South East Asia region.
“I want to work in a place like that, or build a firm like that,” Chad says, speaking of the creative storytelling work he dreams about doing.

Photo by Eimor Santos

To other journalists in the region who are just beginning their careers, Chad urges them to see journalism as both an art and a public responsibility.
“There must be practice, practice, practice in storytelling,” he says. “Journalism is not a he-says-she-says story. It’s about uncovering the truth.”
With the truth, of course, journalists give readers the power to challenge state narratives and policies.
“It is our job as journalists to figure out which policies should be implemented, and who needs to be held accountable,” Chad says.
For this young journalist, it is clear what is at the centre of his journalism practice: to tell stories close to heart of his readers, to make complex news not just accessible but resonant and actionable, and to reveal the complexity of the total human experience.
In his own words: “A story, I would say it over and over again, is not a story without the people in it.”
Lily Jamaludin

About Lily Jamaludin

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she helped design education opportunities for stateless youth in Borneo, and assisted in eviction-prevention initiatives in the Bronx. She’s excited to mobilise more young writers from developing countries to influence national debate around climate change.