The Malaysian Youth Delegation’s fourth Training Series was about climate change communication and we, as its members, looked forward to an informational session on how to better convey climate information using various media. The workshop did deliver that motivational boost but resulted with much more than a refreshed perspective on delivering out spiels on climate change.
Ms. Tina Carmillia, an award-winning environmental journalist and a BFM producer, hosted the workshop on the 9th of June at Sunway University, themed “how to communicate climate change effectively and persuasively.” The session started with Ms. Tina introducing the different stages of developing an effective message. While going through examples of climate change storytelling, she emphasized that climate change, as a subject, never stands alone. The phenomenon is intrinsic to our everyday life, having impacts on the activities and lives of people around the world. As an experienced journalist, she explained that we need to find the angle of story so that it is consumable. The core of our storytelling lies in how one explores the relationship between climate change and life, such as climate change and migration or climate change and gender.
Following the introduction, Ms. Tina highlighted that we need to think about the audience from an angle, profiling them as being cautious, disengaged or doubtful of climate change. She noted that the rise of the smartphones and improvements in information technology have led to the over-consumption of data and information, causing people to experience empathy-fatigue and apathy towards information. By identifying our audience, we can decide on the level of engagement and the subsequent methods of information delivery for impactful storytelling. Ms. Tina further explained that texts work best for persuasive communication, whereas multimedia is suitable for data-heavy delivery to a demanding audience. Most importantly, she reminded us not to over-simplify our delivery just because we assume that the audience is unfamiliar with jargons. “If you continuously use the jargon, people will be familiarised and they will be able to use it and build their vocabulary that will help them form an idea or an opinion about it (climate change)”, said Ms. Tina. All these go into framing and contextualising the fact, fun and fear of climate change for a particular audience.
Furthermore, Ms Tina mentioned that a fully-developed story should be accompanied with solutions. Otherwise, the information and knowledge imparted will be futile, especially since climate change is a complex topic. In the area of climate change where human actions directly impact the environment, we need to be clear about the possible actionables so as to inspire our audience to respond to the issue. Where there are responses, there is momentum and direction to further engage with the believers or the non-believers of climate change.
When we moved on to exploring the different tools and platforms for delivering our message, Ms. Tina affirmed that we already have the key reporting device – our cellphones. She stated that mobile journalism is no longer a thing, because nowadays, it is simply known as journalism. In her years of reporting, journalists have moved away from high-scale production to mobile phones, which is fitting because we consume most content through these devices. Ms. Tina proceeded to give us a demonstration of her toolkit, which included a mini projector, 360 camera, microphones, lighting and much more in the inventory. She explained that the live-broadcasting workstation has evolved into something that could be assembled as quickly as 3 minutes and hooked onto many-cams (switch-board style) in a snap. As for composition pieces, we could employ a few of the many free tools and platform available online, including storytelling web hosts, Google tools, and data animation. Ms. Tina continued to brief us about the production workflow, which consisted of planning, newsgathering, producing, and publishing. Apparently, the workflow cycle could be accomplished in the span of a weekend!
In confirming her point, she gave us 30 minutes to put what we learned into action. We split up into small groups and went around the Sunway University campus to produce a 60 second video on a climate-related issue. After 30 minutes, we regrouped and shared our results and findings. Ms. Tina provided timely feedback and suggestions on our process and videos. In fact, she was impressed and remarked that with a bit more of editing, these videos could be published for the general public as the message of the videos were clear. Before concluding our session, Ms. Tina reminded us that in order to report climate change, we have to explore and utilise different outlets to communicate our message effectively to a specific audience. As long as we learn how to use our voices and differentiate them from the rest, we will succeed in communicating climate change and inciting actions that matter.
Written by Eira and Cai May
Photos by Liyana
Edited by Varun