The role of media in doing a “watch dog” after a natural disaster would hit a locality became the focal point of a two-day consultation and interfacing workshop among local media practitioners held at the Metro Center Hotel last week.
Bohol, having been hit by a strong tremor nine years ago and the recent devastation suffered after typhoon Odette swept the province, was chosen as the pilot area for the “Post-Disaster Accountability Journalism in the Philippines.”
The confab was a joint undertaking of Vera Files and the International Media Support (IMS) in partnership with the Center for Community Journalism and Development.
Andreas Sugar of IMS and Jesper Nywark of Danwatch spoke on accountability journalism (what it is and how it works).
A United Nations Perspective for early recovery after a disaster was presented by Warren Ubongen, former UN-Habitat project manager of rebuilding Marawi.
On hand to conduct the piloting of the advocacy on post-accountability were Rosario Liquicia of Vera Files, Che Delos Reyes of IMS (Phils), and Red Batario of CCJD.
The two-day consultation and workshop were attended by media practitioners including Jun Sepe, of ABS CBN with Bohol media practitioners Rey Chiu of Phil Information Agency, Anthony Aniscal and Allen Doydora of Bohol Chronicle/DYRD, Leo Udtohan of GMA News, Weng Vallecer and Cesar Capangpangan of DYTR while Francis Bernard Batoy represented Bohol Alliance of Non-Government Organization (BANGON-Bohol).
The group scheduled worKshop among working journalists in Bohol next month.
Over the past five years, the international Media Support (IMS) has developed the concept of accountability journalism (AJ) to address reporting gaps especially in the recovery and reconstruction phases following natural disasters. The objective is to promote accountability by enabling local media to act as a watchdog during the reconstruction phase.
The post-typhoon Odette situation in the Philippine provides a relevant context for the AJ project to gain acceptance and take root given the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards, especially typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
While national and local media covered the disaster and its immediate aftermath, they have not reported much from the affected areas in recent months. It was clear that countless accountability stores are waiting to be told: the failure to rebuild schools and communities, relocation to areas and buildings that affected people cannot afford, “no budget to rebuild,” etc.
As experienced elsewhere, good AJ could help to inform people, manage their expectations giving affected communities a voice, and hold authorities and relevant agencies to account. There are also bigger dimensions that warrant coverage, including other disaster and climate risks, national disaster preparations, and psychosocial support structures and mechanisms, among others.
The AJ project in the Philippines will be implemented initially as a pilot which could subsequently be scaled up and converted into a longer-term effort through the IMS country program. Its main implementing partner is Vera Files that will be working closely with local and national media organizations such as the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), civil society groups and networks as well as relevant UN and other international agencies.
The project aims to:
Promote and build capacity of community journalists and news organizations for post-disaster Accountability Journalism (AJ).
Strengthen Inks between local and national media, civil society, relevant UN agencies, and other monitoring groups using an eco-system approach.
Produce Accountability Journalism content for various news media platforms.
Pave the way for longer-term AJ engagement through IMS country program.
The Consultation and interfacing Worskshop on Building Media-CSO Coalition for Accountability Journalism in Bohol is the first phase of the Philippine project.
VERA Files is a media non-profit set up by six women journalists in 2008 to focus on under-reported issues. It started with the production of research intensive, in-depth and high-impact reports in multiple formats-text, photo, audio and video-and the training and mentoring of journalists.