Learning how to conduct an interview, prepare press releases and build relationships with the media were all part of the training conducted for the Solomon Islands Meteorological Services (SIMS) in Honiara this month.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) facilitated the media training for SIMS staff, in partnership with the Solomon Islands Red Cross and the National Disaster Management Office.
“It’s very important for the Meteorology staff to be able to talk to the media,” said Mr. David Hiba Hiriasia, Director of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service.
“With increased weather events affecting our islands, we need to work with the media to raise awareness and educate communities.”
The training brought local Solomon Islands media together to share their experiences in working with SIMS and to look at ways they can strengthen their working relationship.
Presentations by SIMS, the National Disaster Management Office, the Climate Change Division, SPREP, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, PAOA FM, Island Sun newspaper and Solomon Star newspaper sought to clarify roles of each agency and ways to address the challenges faced in working with each other.
“We are really hopeful that from this training the Meteorological staff are more comfortable in working with the media, and to get media to understand meteorological terminology,” said Dr Melchior Mataki, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM).
“We are considering setting up a media unit within the government, employing specialists who can deal with the media and build the capacity of government ministries, like the Meteorological Services, to better communicate with the public.”
The Solomon Islands media also collaborated with the Met Staff to develop a glossary of meteorological definitions that capture the scientific meaning but are also explained to help media and local communities understand. These definitions developed during the training will be translated into Pidgin language and made into posters for easy use of the local media.
A final outcome of the training is a Media Plan that will include the glossary of meteorological terminology with definitions in English and Pidgin, a living list of media contacts, and a one year plan of action to help raise the awareness of the valuable work of SIMS, and strengthen the understanding of the media of meteorology so they can better report on meteorological issues.
The three day media training in Honiara was funded by the Government of Finland as part of the Finnish-Pacific project (FINPAC) which aims to improve livelihoods of Pacific island communities by delivering effective weather, climate and early warning services, through implementation partners SPREP, Pacific governments and other stakeholders.