BANGKOK — A group of producers, news reporters, production teams, academic researchers and trainers pertaining to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) rendezvoused to East Thailand and Coastal Cambodia to learn about villagers’ climate change related problems on 22-26 April.
The media group directly sought out first hand information from Trat and Chanthaburi villagers to learn about the various problems climate change is imposing on their livelihoods and the environment. Thai PBS and IUCN have worked together previously, and have recently entered a MoU to promote environmental protection and climate change coverage.
“We are public media; therefore, our organization is for the benefit of the public. To serve the public interest, we cannot just get stories from other sources. We go to the origin to get information”, said Anothai Udomsilp, Director of Academic Institute of Public Media.
Representing an independent voice in media, Thai PBS has covered political, social and economic issues relating to the country. Recognizing that climate change is becoming an important topic to discuss, Thai PBS has looked to its partners, IUCN and SDF, for help with content provision in their coverage on nature, the environment, natural resources and climate change. Thai PBS will be able to provide information and research to the general public to raise their awareness especially if viewers face similar problems.
“This morning on the seashore, we had a forum with fishermen to exchange ideas. We learned the beach line has lost 30 meters in the last 3 years,” said Udomsilp.
Udomsilp predicts that coastal erosion, although not too urgent and serious now, will be a very serious topic for the future that will need response. Thailand has a coastline of 3,219 km, where in 2006, the World Bank Environment Monitor Report for Thailand measured that 600 km of coastlines experience erosion levels greater than one meter every year.
Based on the discussion with the villagers, the media will play a role of getting the information out to viewers and attract various agencies and partners to provide technical knowledge. Only though amalgamative efforts will problems unique to communities be addressed – and that can only start when the media educates the public and serves as a window for the people to learn what is going on in their backyard and in the world.
“We learn from this project because we see coastal erosion in Trat, Chanthaburi and Cambodia. We realized this is regional. We might have different level of erosions but same issue. I can use the information and pictures for our disaster program. The public knows more and more about climate change,” said Darin Klong-ugkara, news editor and anchor of Thai PBS’ program Learn to Live with Disaster.
Meanwhile, the villagers also enjoyed the exchange with the media. “We shared information about blue swimming crab banks, dolphin and coastal resource management. Such as the role of villagers when something bad happens to the dolphins,” said Kittapas Sreesangkajorn, manager of Mai Root crab bank and coordinator of the Mai root Endangered Marine Animal Rescue Network.
He added, “Media should help to bring the community’s message and problem out to the public. In the past, the media doesn’t help the villagers; they just come and get information from us. But Thai PBS comes and interviews us personally, directly seeing our problems; this will help us greatly.”
Udomsilp recognizes that the media plays a crucial role in informing the wider society to think about the villagers’ problems. “The problem might not be their problem today, but who is to say that this will not be their problem in the future. The issue can be broadcasted in various forms, depends on how each journalist translates what they hear into their presentation; some might produce documentaries or program their own way,” said Udomsilp.
Various Thai PBS programs were present, and each will be using what they learned from the field to better enhance their productions. The programs include Green Station, Citizen Journalists, Eat Am Are and Learn to Live with Disaster. Moreover, the Academic Institute of Public Media within Thai PBS was also present; they are a media training and technical expertise academy.
“After the big flood in 2011, people pay more attention to disasters and climate change. I believe that media has a chance to present about what people want and need to know more about,” said Klong-ugkara.
The growth of access to social media has been helping democratize channels of communication. “Thai PBS supports citizenship journalism. I think we should also put it here. Instead of relying on media and waiting for agencies, the villagers can discuss about their problems and use media. We must support them technically. People can voice their concerns, the voice of the voiceless,” said Udomsilp.
“Ultimately, we want to find ways to reach the public. We want to use Facebook and websites, such as what our village leader did, when she posted on Facebook about a private company that came to take some of our natural resources,” ended Sreesangkajorn.
This five day workshop was held in Chanthaburi and Trat of Thailand and Koh Kong in Cambodia.
By Lean Bayle Deleon, Sustainable Development Foundation