BBC Editor [Explains] [Provides Poor Excuse For] [Has No Idea] About COP10 In Nagoya

Just found this gem from the BBC Editors Blog, where they try to explain why the international media has been totally absent from the UN negotiations during the past week in Nagoya.

The [lack of] [lackluster] media coverage of a major international treaty having been finalized (about liability and redress issues regarding damage from genetically modified organisms) and lack of progress about the controversial topic of Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources (a deep divide between the resource-rich countries in the south and the north, where biotech industries want to patent and profit from said resources) is depressing.

The BBC editor [explains] [cops out saying] [makes some good points but fails to get to the core of the problem that media is no longer telling people what is really going on]:

The Convention on Biodiversity was established at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 with the aim of preventing the creeping extinction of the various forms of life on earth which are under threat from the growing population of human beings and their industrial and agricultural development.

UN members committed themselves to protecting life on Earth from extinction and making this a central part of their economic development - what's called sustainable development - but since then, biodiversity loss has accelerated.

Many environmentalists and conservationists, such as Jonathan Baillie of the Zoological Society of London argue the loss of biodiversity is an immediate threat, and yet there is much less coverage in the mainstream media of the issue than, say, climate change.

This week on The World Tonight we have been previewing the conference with a series of reports and special edition of the programme tonight.

(Before I am accused of being holier-than-thou, I have to acknowledge that we on The World Tonight have not given this issue as much coverage as we have climate change and other environmental issues, so in a sense this week we've been playing catch up.)

The participants in our special told me they felt the issue has been largely ignored by the mainstream media and that they find it difficult to get journalists and editors who are not environment specialists to engage with the issue.

But why should this be, given the experts are saying the situation is very bad and deteriorating fast?

Working on the plans for our special programme, has made me think about the possible reasons for this

Journalism - especially perhaps broadcast journalism - prefers issues where there are clearly divergent views and a more binary debate, such as there is regarding climate change. But with biodiversity there isn't that divergence over the fundamentals - there seems to be little disputing that biodiversity is being lost, so the debate is over what to do about it and, even there, there seems a high degree of consensus between environmentalists, conservationists and business - as our special programme reflects.

Stories about the threat to tigers in a particular country or say polar bears in the Arctic are not uncommon. But wider biodiversity loss and its causes are a more complex issue which is quite difficult to present in short reports and articles, which may be deterring mainstream journalists and editors.

Also, it's been suggested that because natural history programming, be it from the BBC, National Geographic, or others, is very good and very popular with audiences, many journalists have seen that as providing adequate coverage of the issue.

I have to say I wouldn't agree that natural history programmes are enough given the role that governments, business and non-governmental organisations play in biodiversity policy.

Whatever the reasons for the relative lack of coverage, the conference next week, even if there's no conclusive outcome, gives us the opportunity to report on the issues around biodiversity loss.

BBC Editors Blog: Biodiversity: Lost or missing?

And I do hope they will try harder. NHK, meanwhile, has done a terrific job here locally for its 120 million viewers, with daily reports in the news, and also special features, including hour-long reports about biopiracy and how countries like Peru are implementing legislation to both protect their precious genetic resources in a sustainable way, and also give access to sincere people who want to do serious research, and, in the case where there are commercial applications, share the benefits. BBC, you can learn a lot from NHK.

(Square brackets are part of the way UN treaties are [[negotiated] [bullied through by the [industrial][developed] countries [that can bribe others]] [held hostage until the negotiators are too tired to resist any longer][kept sane by [other interested parties][people who care about the global environment and the health and safety of other people]] - and yes, you can have square brackets within square brackets, and yes, sometimes they get confused and have long and tedious discussions about which square bracket they are talking about, and which one they have just agreed to delete, in order to produce "clean text" that everyone can agree on...)


Tom O said…
From the smatterings I have seen NHK seems to be doing an absolute sterling job. The BBC `journalists`, dont get me started. Being paid via public money, ie licence fee, they all seem to be on one big jolly. A journalism degree - seems a massive oxymoron to me.

Of course, they`ll start covering stuff if/when its too late. Nice.

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