Making of ‘The Greenbelt Reports’ recalled in ‘The Green Pen’

The process of producing and distributing TVE Asia Pacific’s educational TV series, The Greenbelt Reports, is showcased in a new book on environmental journalism in South Asia, just published by Sage, a globally operating company that specialises in bringing out academic and professional books.

The book, titled The Green Pen: Environmental Journalism in India and South Asia, is edited by two senior Indian journalists, both good friends – Keya Acharya of Bangalore, and Frederick Noronha based in Goa. (In 2007, Fred and I co-edited Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book.)

Arranged in 10 sections, the book brings together contributions from three dozen journalists, broadcasters and film makers in South Asia. It opens with a foreword by Darryl D’Monte, one time editor of The Times of India and Chair, Forum of Environmental Journalists of India (FEJI).

I co-wrote the chapter titled ‘Dispatches from the Frontline: Making of The Greenbelt Reports’ with my colleague Manori Wijesekera, TVEAP’s Regional Programme Manager. I was researcher and script writer of the 12-part, 4-country series that we made in 2006, in which Manori was series producer. The series looked at the environmental lessons of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The title reflects the lingering print bias in media related discussions: in our case, the content we produced was disseminated on broadcast television, narrowcast DVD and online. We wielded cameras rather than pens, but are still very glad to share our experience in this book.

Keya Acharya (left) and Fred Noronha

The publisher’s blurb says: “This collection of essays by some of the most prominent environmental journalists in Indian and South Asia gives deep insights into their profession and its need and relevance in society. It looks at this ‘specialisation’ of journalism both in the past and the present. Underlying almost all the essays is the changing nature of media in the region and the dilemmas facing environmental journalists. The varied background of the writers ensures the showcasing of a wide range of realities and experiences from the field. Contributions include essays by Darryl D’Monte, the late Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain, among others.”

“This is the first book of its kind on environmental journalism, which would be an excellent resource to aid the future evolution of the enterprise in the region. Apart from essays from India, there are contributions from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives. The book will interest a wide readership, any informed reader, besides journalists and environmentalists.”

It’s an honour to be part of a book which features the work of respected seniors like Anil, Darryl and Sunita – all of who have influenced my own career and I’m privileged to count among my friends (alas, Anil is no longer with us). In fact, I have either met, worked with or am friends with more than half the three dozen contributing authors of this book.

Who says South Asia is large?

More in TVEAP news story: The Greenbelt Reports featured in new book on environmental journalism in South Asia

“It’s an immensely exciting time for people working with video!” – Sam Gregory

Sam Gregory

Sam Gregory

“It’s an immensely exciting time for people working with video. More and more people creating and using video, more places to share it, more ways to place it in front of people who can make a difference.

“It raises challenges too: saturation of images and compassion-fatigue, finding your place to be heard, and the safety and security and consent issues that arise when many more people are filming each other.

“But overall I think we’re seeing a really powerful moment for individual expression but also collective accountability being supported via image-making.”

So says Sam Gregory programme director of Witness, a human rights organisation which uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. The New York-anchored organisation works around the world to ’empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change’.

Sam is a video producer, trainer and human rights advocate who knows and taps into the power of moving images to move people. He was speaking with Indian journalist and cyber activist Frederick Noronha in an interview just published at the Info Activism website.

Sam recalls how he was once making films and also involved in activism, and ‘frustrated at how the two didn’t fit together’.

He adds: “In the traditional TV documentary world, the advocacy purpose of film was under-utilized. The fact that you got 500,000 viewers for a TV broadcast told you nothing about whether that turned into action. So I started looking for ways to really make the video fit as a tool for real advocacy and change-making, and came upon WITNESS.”

Read full interview on InfoActivism website

We at TVE Asia Pacific worked closely with Sam in 2002-2004, when we implemented a collaborative Asian regional project called Truth Talking where Witness was a partner. It was through Witness that I met courageous info activists like Joey R B Lozano.