This case study shares learning and results from a Panos South Asia project as part of the Relay programme, to report research on dams and development in Northeast India.
The local media has been very active in reporting various development issues, but often these reports are not informed by relevant research and data. Media houses sometimes lack specialized journalists on particular issues and the journalists too lack orientation in research reporting. Relay has found that the issue of mega-dam construction in Northeast India has been polarised in the press. The articles tend to reflect the views of either government, which is in support of the dams, or civil society and community based organisations opposing their construction.
To address these problems, Relay designed an intervention centred around a six-month fellowship programme including the production of resource materials, orientation workshops, contact building, field visits, multiple outputs and feedback, publishing, reflection reports, and a Roundtable learning forum. The fellowship aimed to improve journalists’ capacity to interact with researchers and to draw on research as a valuable source for their articles.
The case study describes Relay’s strategies to address existing research communication gaps in Northeast India, and the programme’s successes and challenges. The report particularly highlights the need to create spaces where different stakeholders can interact together and provides an overview of the different methods Relay has used to facilitate it.
The results section focuses on both expected and unexpected outcomes, including improved reporting skills, better quality media coverage and new coalitions between journalists and researchers. Particular emphasis is placed on how journalists can include the voices of people most affected by the dam construction and examples of positive response from the public and the officials are illustrated.
The paper also provides a set of recommendations for other organisations wanting to make use of Relay’s successful methods.
This case study represents work-in-progress. It aims to share findings from a recent project on dams and development. Comments and feedback are encouraged!