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Brave environmental journalists face increasing threats and dangers

Journalists reporting on the environment faced increased dangers in 2018, Monga Bay, by Kaamil Ahmed on 4 January 2019 

  • Journalists describe some of the threats and dangers they faced in 2018.
  • These range from intimidation to legal threats to outright violence.
  • At least 10 journalists covering the environment were killed between 2010 and 2016, according to Reporters without Borders — all but two of them in Asia.

A pair of “French spies” had infiltrated India by sea to commit a “treasonous conspiracy,” an Indian minister claimed in late November. In reality, they were two visiting journalists, and their mission was an investigation into allegations of illegal sand mining in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. They had merely tried and failed to visit the site of a major mining company through legal means.

Their presence set off alarm bells among some connected to the industry, and the fallout has been significant. It’s included a police investigation, a politically fueled propaganda campaign, and the arrests of two local translators who had been working for them.

This heavy-handed response is familiar to Indian journalist Sandhya Ravishankar, who has reported on sand mining since 2013 and found that her probing into allegations of major business interests damaging the local environment has resulted in stalking and various types of harassment – some of it reportedly directed by the head of one of the mining companies.

“I got rape threats, my bike was vandalized, the miner has openly admitted that there are five detective agencies trailing me wherever I go, CCTV visuals of me having coffee with a source at a cafe have been made public,” Ravishankar said, adding that she also discovered government documents showing “officials have colluded to slander me.”

Ravishankar’s case is just one example of the growing dangers for journalists reporting environmental stories. Even as environmental journalism becomes increasingly important in the face of destructive business and political interests and practices, the inherent safety risks remain.

There are also the more routine challenges of accessing crucial information and convincing editors and readers of their importance.

“Journalists I’ve interviewed have been arrested, sued, fired, threatened, harassed, interrogated by police, interrogated by the military, physically assaulted and a number of them have been killed while covering logging, mining, development,” said journalism professor Eric Freedman in an interview. Freedman is the Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism and director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

Freedman said environmental journalism came with its own set of challenges, many of which evolve with the story.

“Environmental controversies frequently involve power, political and economic power,” he said. “They involve money, whether mines or fracking or hydropower.

“Covering these kinds of beats, particularly in areas where journalists are not respected and protected takes a great deal of courage and bravery.”…………https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/journalists-reporting-on-the-environment-faced-increased-dangers-in-2018/

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January 7, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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