The Media Resource Centre (MRC) dovetails its efforts with other CSE units to help disseminate information and establish a sustained and interactive contact with the mass media. The objective is to bring into sharp focus environmental and sustainability issues in national and international media and polity.
The extensive reach of mass media can aid in scrutinising linkages between environment and development, spark debates on crucial issues, and lead to positive policy change. We hope to create a network of journalists committed to researching, investigating and generating information on issues that affect the livelihoods of millions.
Purpose and objectives
The key purpose behind setting up the MRC unit was to build an informed and vibrant community of writers on environmental issues. The idea is to reach out to a large number of young media professionals across the country and in South Asia, to inform them, to stimulate them about current issues on environment and development, and to inspire and encourage them to write in a more informed and rigorous manner. An active network of writers, once built, will also help to bring information about changes in the environmental field from across the country to our attention.
With this purpose and objective in mind, the unit has been involved in a variety of activities, which include conducting media fellowships, organising media briefing workshops, running a feature service and a media alert service, and conducting training programmes.
Media Fellowships: The unit organises and conducts some media fellowships every year, under which grants are provided to journalists to encourage them to travel, study and report on issues of environment and development. About 70 journalists from across India and South Asia have already received CSE media fellowships under this programme. The subjects covered by the programme have been varied – ranging from water, desertification, forests, sustainable development and livelihoods in India’s Northeast, mining and NREGA, to rivers, human-wildlife conflict, climate change and coastal issues.
Media Briefing Workshops: The MRC regularly organises media briefing workshops across India. These workshops -- national, South Asian as well as regional -- have primarily aimed at demystifying key environmental issues for the benefit of the media, so that it gets a basic understanding of the subject. This, in turn, helps the media report on the issues more effectively. The unit has organised such workshops on water, global environmental governance, vehicular air pollution, NREGA, sponge iron, ecology and livelihood, arsenic contamination of groundwater, food safety and climate change.
Feature Service: The MRC manages a print and online Feature Service, which is subscribed to by over 150 editors across South Asia. The fortnightly service is offered free of cost, and is being sent out in two languages (Hindi and English). It packages a selection of sharply edited, ready-to-use news and feature stories for publications – newspapers and magazines – across the region.
Other activities: From time to time, the unit initiates new services and activities as well -- media alerts on current topics in environment and development have been one such initiative. For example, before and during the 15th Conference of Parties (CoP) on Climate Change at Copenhagen, held in December 2009, the MRC collated and sent climate alerts to journalists in its network, keeping them abreast of the negotiations and the politics. It also facilitated the participation of about 12 Indian journalists at the CoP, helping them report directly from the venue.
The unit regularly plays the anchoring role in organising press conferences, briefings and all other interactions with the media on a regular basis, and works towards keeping CSE’s channels of contact with the media wide open.