Earth Journalism Network sponsors worldwide contest for 15 young environmental journalists for a free trip to Copenhagen to cover the COP15 talks

We’ve heard plenty about the mainstream media’s complete inadequacy when it comes to covering climate change (see links here).

At least one organization, the Earth Journalism Network (EJN) — whose mission is to “establish networks of environmental journalists in countries where they don’t exist, and build their capacity where they do” — is doing its part to support a better-covered future through the Earth Journalism Awards. This video above illustrates how serious EJN is.

With the EJN’s broad goal of translating “complex issues for local audiences,” budding and established environmental journalists aged 18-to-28 have until midday, Paris time on September 7th to submit their best climate piece. Aimed at empowering young people across the world to make up for the world media’s many gaps and failings, the awards actively push for a stronger focus on climate issues in regions both devoid and oversaturated with media coverage.

Specifically, the EJN will choose 14 top stories based on the stories’ region of focus and origin (North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Western World, etc) and subject matter (Climate Change and Forests, Energy, Human Voices, etc), with a 15th winner to be picked via internet polling.


These 15 lucky winners get an invitation to the COP15 talks at Copenhagen this December to “cover these pivotal negotiations and be honoured at a high-profile awards ceremony.” EJN even pays for the carbon-offset of the winners’ flights — that’s classy.

What’s great, though, is that the competition accepts all sorts of media from “environmental print, radio, TV and online journalists, photojournalists and bloggers.” Not only is the contest encouraging entries from under-reported regions about the under-represented subject of climate change, but it wholeheartedly embraces the power of the 21st century media and makes an effort to be as inclusive as possible — which is particularly important, considering the state of “traditional” media in much of the world.

But the contest is not without its 20th century throwbacks, considering the MTV Positive Change award. Stating definitively that “There is nothing the MTV generation is better at than taking on a challenge” (besides the challenge of a finding a name without corporate sponsorship), MTV will support a trip to Copenhagen for the creator of the most original and creative submission. Sure, the Danish government is also hosting an award for Climate Change Adaptation, but Ulla T¸rn¦s, Danish Minister of Development Cooperation and primary sponsor of the award, doesn’t have an entire generation named after her.

While the contest’s English fluency requirement seems to grate against its dedication to regional diversity by possibly limiting submissions to only the highly educated in non-English speaking countries, it still sounds like a fantastic opportunity. As an 18-to-28 year old fluent in English and always on the lookout for a free trip to Copenhagen, color me intrigued.

Austin Davis is a summer intern at American Progress, working on climate, energy and clean economy issues. Austin is pursuing a BA in political science at Middlebury College.