NGOs, represented by Plan, Care, Oxfam, Challenge to Change and Live & Learn, among others, met with journalists who specialised in environmental issues to discuss the challenges facing Vietnam.
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According to most accounts, Vietnamese journalists are not in the loop when it comes to environmental issues. Mrs. Linh, from the Vietnam Television's Science and Technology Board, commented that she and her colleagues often have to search for information through their own personal contacts because their professional relations with NGOs are limited.
Mrs. Thuy Anh, a communications representative from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), added that on the whole journalists in the country lack both interest and information about climate change leading to under-reporting on the subject.
Many Vietnamese journalists have been invited on three or four-day trips to see the consequences of climate change. The results of these expeditions remain mixed, many coming out as just short pieces. Although a number of articles have been published mentioning the effects of natural disasters widely attributed to climate change, such as floods in the central region, they have failed to make the link with the cause. As a result, readers remain uninformed about the relation between the environment and natural disasters, said Anh.
While many Vietnamese farmers simply blame such incidents on 'God', both NGOs and journalists have been struggling to communicate potential risks in an understandable and effective way.
At recent seminar, some journalists from the Mekong Delta complained that, even though they have space reserved for environmental topics, the information that they receive from NGOs is too technical for a layperson to understand.
A representative from Challenge to Change Organisation said that their budget for communications is very modest, and so they must leave it up to the journalists to sift through the data they collect. They added that press releases are normally only sent out to journalists at the inception and ending of projects, and that it is not fiscally possible for them to include journalists in every step.
Both NGO representatives and journalists who attended the meeting had high hopes for further co-operation. A number of solutions were agreed upon, such as direct communication via online forums, more training courses for Vietnamese journalists and improving the communications departments of NGOs.