On May 10-12, Climate Tracker and Amazônia Real partnered to organize the “1st Socio-environmentalist Journalism Workshop” in Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon. The workshop took place in a beautiful protected area of the city, the Municipal Park of Mindu. The city created the park in the 90s to, among other things, protect the highly threaten pied tamarin, a monkey that only exists here in this region.
We noticed a great interest that young journalists have in issues related to climate change, the environment and indigenous populations. We had to review over 80 applications to select 20 participants between students and budding journalists for our workshop. The selection process was quite hard as per the very competent profiles and journalistic passion expressed by the candidates.
During the three-day workshop, we approached many different topics. In fact, the subjects we discussed were as diverse as the backgrounds of our speakers. We had hard core journalists, such as Kátia Brasil and Elaíze Farias, founders from Amazônia Real, and Alexandre Hisayasu, an investigative reporter at TV Globo, the largest media network in Brazil. There was a journalist turned activist, Juliana Radler, who works for Instituto Socioambiental. We also had a journalist who became a photographer, Bruno Kelly, who works regularly for Reuters. There was a renowned scientist, Rita Mesquita, from INPA, the National Institute of Amazonian Research. Oh, and myself – a scientist turned journalist.
All speakers shared with us their stories and approach to those subjects. We learned about large scientific projects in the Amazon region. We heard stories of indigenous communities fighting for their rights. We peek at the backstage of an investigative story that uncovered spurious ties between illegal timber extraction, high-ranked officials of environmental agencies and politicians. We saw pictures of forests burning and of scientists studying wildlife. And in-between talks, Elvira França, whom also helped organising the workshop, shared with the group simple exercises to improve our well-being.
There was a great exchange of experiences and workshop participants in turns shared their owns. One of them works with migrants, a couple are interns in press offices from public institutions, another one wants to study agroecology.
We sure learned a lot from each other, and I hope we can continue doing so. In fact, we want this to be the kick-start of something bigger. In the next weeks we will work closely with some of the participants to create a local journalism hub. We want to create a community engaged in socio-environmental issues, where journalists, newsrooms and NGOs can work together. To bring these topics into the public debate and be part of the change we need.
We look forward to continuing exchanging ideas, opportunities and experiences here in Manaus.
Photographs by Alberto César Araújo/Amazônia Real