The role of the Zambian Media in Public enviromental Awareness and Education
Simooya, Steriah Monica
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Successful environmental communication is achieved through a well informed public as it will be better equipped and positioned to tackle the environmental challenges of the 21st century. A well informed public is partly a result of the role the media plays in disseminating information. In view of this, the media plays a strategic role in raising public environmental awareness, disseminating environmental information and inspiring environmental action. This study looked at the role of the Zambian media in public environmental awareness and education. The study aimed at finding out the role of the Zambian media in public environmental awareness and education. The study was guided by three objectives: to find out how many environmental journalists there were in selected media organizations; to determine the content of environmental information published by the selected media and; to find out the contribution of environmental journalism to the lives of ordinary people in the selected Zambian urban, rural and peri-urban areas. The study used qualitative and quantitative research designs and also a survey research technique. The research analyzed environmental contents of three prominent daily newspapers in Zambia namely; The Post, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. The study also captured views and experiences of respondents from which qualitative and quantitative data was obtained. Purposive and random sampling were used to select respondents from the three dailies and also from a cross section of the Zambian society. Statistical Package for Social Sciences and Microsoft Excel were used to process field data. To collect primary data, daily publications for three selected months of May, June and July 2010 by the three newspapers were analyzed to determine the topics and frequency of environmental news coverage. Questionnaires were administered to editors and journalists from the three daily newspapers and also a cross section of the Zambian society. The findings of the research indicated that people tasked with the collection and publication of environmental information were not trained in environmental matters hence their inability to successfully communicate environmental information in an interesting and educative manner. xii More space was dedicated to the printing of political and sports news compared to environmental information which was deemed unsellable and bad for business. The study further found out that much of the space allocated to environmental coverage was dedicated to pollution and that most of the environmental events covered were seasonal, were based only in urban areas and that these events only saw the light of day when accompanied by a prominent person in society or the government of the day. The study also found that the public lacked sensitization in environmental matters resulting in their inability to be environmentally responsible either individually or at community level. In view of the above research findings, the following recommendations arose: In-service media personnel need to be trained through refresher courses in environmental matters. Environmental programmes to be designed in all institutions of higher learning that train journalists in order to produce environmental journalists, as is the case in developed countries. The study further recommends that the media needs to place value on environmental coverage by carrying out in-depth analyses and research on the issues and events they publish and the media also need to reduce on too much technical terms in their environmental reporting. The media of all types in the country need to come together and partner with other interested stakeholders such as Ministry of Tourism Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Council of Zambia.
- Education