Apocalypse now

The media is not focusing enough on the long term changes of the climate. That was the consensus after the panel about climate change and media in Turkey one the second day of the Carbon Summit in Istanbul. They said that the media focuses too much on apocalypse scenarios.

2016-02-15 15-31-20 Ekran görüntüsü

By Laurens Bammens*

‘Climate change is an objective issue’, said Melis Alphan from Hürriyet newspaper. While that may be true, media is hardly ever neutral in the way they report news. Overall, both Turkish and international media tend to focus on the things that are happening right now. A flood, a draught or natural disasters like hurricanes.

What the Turkish people need according to the journalists on the panel, is a long-term perspective. ‘If you only report about disasters, people get used to it’, said Pelin Cengiz from Haberdar.com. She said the media needs to show the people why we need to stop global warming and how they can help. ‘We cannot just tell people they should use more environmental-friendly light bulbs or to eat less meat. We have to explain to them why these things can help the environment’, said Cengiz.

Uygar Özesmi from Good4trust.org said it is important to tell stories. By telling success stories about people who succeed, others get motivated. This can have a snowball effect. There are media like Good4trust.org who report about climate change, but the mass media has not picked it up. ‘If the mass media does not care about climate change, then neither will the people’, said Didem Eryay-Ünlü from Dünya.

Lost in translation

Both today and yesterday at the Carbon Summit, speakers complained about the lack of Turkish studies about climate change and Turkish experts. The journalists on the panel said problems with terminology can get lost in translation from English. Instead of improving the English language proficiency in Turkey and collecting the information that is already out there, the speakers agreed that there should be more information available in Turkish.

Cengiz pointed out an example of a medium that, according to her, is doing a good job of reporting on climate change. She said that The Guardian had their own eco-team that was specialised in climate matters. She said that they are committing to very responsible journalism. She added that ngo’s should collaborate with journalists.

The panel looked back on last year’s COP 12 in Ankara, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Alphan pointed out that at that time, journalists were only interested about the refugee crisis. So that was the only thing politicians would get asked about. She said that only some journalists woke up afterwards and reported about the issue at hand.

In conclusion, the summit was a good attempt at improving the zero emission goal by 2050. Yet a lot of hypocrisy hides in plain sight. Lunches for the guests and speakers were handed out in paper bags. The food itself was a sandwich with meat and only few vegetables. On top of that the sandwich was wrapped in plastic, just as the chocolate cupcake. The water was served in plastic cups. Last, but not least everyone seemed to forget that Turkey is building its first nuclear power plant. When several countries in Europe are discussing if they can close the nuclear stations, Turkey decides to build on itself. The undersecretaries of the ministries were even proud of that achievement.

***Laurens Bammens, PXL Journalism student and he is Dağ Medya Intern during the 15 February – 3 June 2016



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