BANGKOK – IPS Asia-Pacific’s offices became a classroom twice in recent weeks as two classes of graduate students from the Asian Institute of Technology came to discuss issues of journalism, gender, environment as well as the media mindset.
On Mar. 30, a class of 16 graduate students in the gender and development studies module spent two hours at the IPS regional office in the Thai capital, with their professor, Babette Resurreccion. The students were from varied courses, backgrounds and countries, ranging from Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Nigeria.
IPS Asia-Pacific Director Johanna Son discussed the IPS news philosophy, including its approach to gender and the MDG-3 project. She began by presenting the findings of a survey IPS Asia-Pacific had done among media and development advocates on their perceptions of gender sensitivity and language, and then linked that to the ‘Talking Gender in the Mekong Media’ report the organisation released recently.
Also taking part in the discussion to share their experiences was regional correspondent Marwaan Macan-Markar and media project coordinator Lynette Corporal.
The questions asked by the students generated quite an interesting debate, ranging from how journalists approach objectivity, bias and fairness, how to translate academic-oriented writing to writing for general audiences and how to work on gender-friendly language. Son also explained that while it is common to assume that dropping all the suffixes of ‘-men’ makes news copy gender-friendly, such is not the case as there is nothing wrong about saying if a quoted source is a she or a he, for instance.
The second class, an environment class of six students, came on Apr. 7, as part of their course at AIT Extension programme for the Norway-based Fredkorpset exchange programme.
Son used a current story in the region that the students, from Vietnam, Laos and China, could very well identify with – the drought in the Mekong region and the just-finished Mekong summit that highlighted political, environment and development issues around China’s dam-building in South-east Asia’s longest river. For this she used material from the IPS news wire, including a slideshow by a Lao journalist on the Mekong drought, as well as reports on the Mekong summit.
The students, from Vietnam, Laos and China, are writers part of environmental organisations or federations in their countries. They will be assigned to different countries in Asia to work on environmental journalism.
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