Stella Makes Heard Voice of Youth This Time for Climate Change
All you want to know about Transformative Storytelling
Stella Paul, the award-winning environmental journalist, is one of our most inspiring speakers in coming ASEAN Power Shift (APS). She, now, as well member of the global policy think tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung that works to make heard the voice of the youth, put her the best advisor for young campaigners joining APS on ‘how to use the simplest yet most powerful tool to change the world’. Let us make her share some tips here!
SP: Stella Paul CK: Candy Ko (Youth Organising Committee)
CK: Hi Stella, read from your profile, you have been a media campaigner in Greenpeace and now work as the communications director for Video Volunteers, one of the largest community media organizations, it is believed that your experience and network could have made you reaching the best sources for stories. Maybe you can tell us what is your general practice to explore topics?
SP: As a journalist, I am determined to tell the stories that are either under-reported, or have never been reported at all. So, I have a certain strategy of following the globally emerging environmental issues and also finding a locally relevant story on those issues. I subscribe to a large number of newsletters and press releases by various UN agencies as well as various governments. I also read at least a dozen newspapers from the Asia-Pacific region. There is always something there — an event or a scheme or a change in the policy — that can trigger one’s interest or, as we call in journalism “throw the hook”. Once I find that hook, I can construct a story idea and move forward.
CK: From your articles, we can see a consistence in your publicizing stories of marginalized communities. What makes you believe in solution-oriented journalism to bring change? Can you tell us some examples you are recently working on?
SP: A few years ago, when I was just beginning my career as an environmental journalist, I met with a few editors from Europe in London. I heard each one of them say how many journalists were obsessed with telling a “sob story”, rather than a story of a change, and how, as editors, they found it very boring.
This made me think hard. As a journalist, telling a story in an unbiased way was important. But I wanted to go beyond that and create an impact. I definitely didn’t want to be that journalist who only told a “sob story”! It was this thought that led me to adopt solution-oriented journalism that could stir positive action.
I have over a dozen examples where my solution-oriented stories have created an impact. In one of the most recent examples, an Indian woman was released from slavery by a group of people who read my story. In another, a village in central India installed a Reverse Osmosis water plant after one of them read a blog by me. And as I write this, a reader of mine (an IT engineer) in Delhi is building an app to report child and girl trafficking in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
CK: You are exploring gender to many issues, why are they intervened? What is the utopia you try to achieve?
SP: First of all, a gender-balanced world where people of all genders enjoy equal rights is not a utopia, but a reality which is absolutely achievable. If we look at Finland which tops the list of the countries where women and men enjoy equal rights and freedom, we realize, “gender rights” isn’t a jargon or a very hard-to-understand theory.
As a journalist, I have always tried to get more women’s voices in each of my story, not just as a victim, but also as a provider of solutions and great leadership. I believe that this is very important because as journalists, it is our responsibility to tell a story with integrity and honesty. But when we leave out women and their voices and fail to report the inequality they face, we also fail to balance both integrity and honesty.
My belief and my decision rise from the fact that as an individual, I have faced gender bias and discrimination all through my life. Even as a child, I was nearly killed because I was a girl and not a boy.
CK: Heard about you are travelling to Sweden soon?
SP: In the coming weeks I will be traveling to, beside Singapore for ASEAN Power Shift, the US and Sweden. I am very excited about the Sweden trip where I will be covering the World Water Week. Water is one of the most important environmental issues right now and in this event we will hear of new solutions and policies to link water with development. I am particularly glad to be one of the 5 journalists worldwide to receive a full sponsorship for this trip.
CK: What are the issues you want more youth to write about and express their views on?
SP: I would like more youths to think of climate change-related issues that actually affect and impact them personally, such as water, disaster and energy. All of these are very relevant issues to the ASEAN region and I would love to see youths writing of not just the problems, but also the solutions and opportunities. For example, how development of renewable energy can create new career and job opportunities for the region’s youths is a very good subject to write about!
CK: Thank you for your time and look forward to your face-to-face sharing with our youth participants in APS!
More about Stella PAUL
Winner of Asian Environmental Journalism Awards 2014 (Environmental Blogger of the Year). Multimedia journalist, documentary producer on development and environment issues.
Previously new reporter for ETV, MSN, and media campaigner for Greenpeace. Currently communications director of Video Volunteers and active member of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a global policy think tank. Passionate about practicable solutions and positive change. Staunch believer in the mantra “social media can bring social good”.