Newspaper Makes Biodiversity a ‘Sexy’ Topic

#WeCanBeBiodiversityHeroes Story No. 1: Business Mirror                                                  

According to a number of Southeast Asian media practitioners who responded to the Biodiversity Awareness Survey for Media Practitioners in the ASEAN Region conducted by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, a major factor affecting the limited reportage on biodiversity is the fact that it is not seen as a priority topic. There are always other priorities like political and economic news and biodiversity is seen as a secondary news item.

One newspaper that considers biodiversity a priority is the Philippine-based BusinessMirror which devotes a full section to biodiversity-related stories every Sunday.


Bridging the gap between scientists and readers

BusinessMirror gives premium to issues concerning the conservation of environment and biodiversity, among other issues in the Philippines, in the Southeast Asian region, and other parts of the world. “We believe that biodiversity and environment conservation is important and should be a concern not just of scientists and environmentalists but also of other sectors, including business—because biodiversity is the source of raw materials for business, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and ecotourism, among others,” Ms. Lyn Resurreccion, Green Section editor of BusinessMirror, said.


Giving premium attention to biodiversity issues

The newspaper started printing environment and biodiversity issues in its pages—from Front page—and in Science page since it started in October 2005. But since more and more issues on biodiversity and environment crop up, the newspaper decided in 2011 to have a dedicated section on biodiversity and environment every Sunday—the Green section that contains the Green, Biodiversity, Science and Faith pages—although it still prints such issues in its other pages when the need arises.

“Through this section, we allow the readers to appreciate and understand how environment and biodiversity issues impact on health; the effects of progress on biodiversity and of biodiversity to progress; the economic value of biodiversity; the initiatives of the business sector; how biodiversity could mitigate climate change and how climate change affects biodiversity; the illegal wildlife trade; the discovery of new species and loss of existing ones; the significance of heritage and national parks, and protected areas; effects of pollution on biodiversity; the role of business and entrepreneurs in environment and biodiversity conservation; and the participation of indigenous peoples, women and other sectors in environment and biodiversity conservation, among others,” said Ms. Resurreccion.

She added that, “The newspaper is proud to say that its earlier printing of biodiversity and environment issues—before it came out with its Green section—was already recognized by the biodiversity conservation community in the ASEAN region by bagging the third place in the Media Category in the first ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity Media Award in 2011 and the first prize in 2014.”

The BusinessMirror also won two Newspaper of the Year (2006 and 2010) awards and one Businesspaper of the Year (2013) award from the Rotary Club of Manila for its comprehensive coverage of issues. The Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. likewise recognized the BusinessMirror as the Best Business Newspaper of the Year in 2008. It also received Special Citation from the Department of Science and Technology in 2013 for its extensive coverage of science and technology, including environment and biodiversity issues. It also won recognition from the United Nations and the biotechnology and business sectors, among others.


Making biodiversity a ‘sexy’ topic

Its effort to report on biodiversity, however, is not without challenges. “When we started focusing on biodiversity issues, we faced the unique challenge of making it a ‘sexy’ topic, which could hook readers and generate public support. Our reporters and editors also had to be constantly encouraged to embrace the subject and appreciate the seamless connection between biodiversity, climate change and the very stake of human survival. It’s not exactly a simple topic to handle; some biodiversity-related issues are complex and can’t be written simplistically, or without careful research and extensive interviews with multidisciplinary experts,” Ms. Resurreccion said.


#WeCanBeBiodiversityHeroes #ABH2017 #ASEAN2017