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Alumni Profile: Siriluk (Paw) Sriprisit

In this graduate profile Thai Siriluk Sriprisit discusses with us her not-for-profit journalism initiative iMekong, which aims to support South East Asia women doing environmental reporting in the Mekong river region.

2015.03.01 | Hannah Spyksma

Siriluk (Paw) Sriprisit / Thailand
Amsterdam / 2012-2014

Winding from the heights of Tibet down to the mudflats of Vietnam, the Mekong River basin is a life force for more than 60 million people in South East Asia. Reporting on the endless social, political, environmental and economic issues that shape such a regionally interconnected body of water is understandably complex and challenging. So Siriluk (Paw) Sriprisit is making it her mission to help enhance young journalists’ capacity by providing training and knowledge to create more effective communication and news about the Mekong River Region.

“When we see the river we see life, we see fishermen, we see trees, we see the base of the whole watershed. But our governments see Mekong river as a resource that can be exploited,” she says from her base in Chiang Mai. “We need a new generation [of journalists] and we need to produce now, we need to start now.”

 We need a new generation [of journalists] and we need to produce now, we need to start now.

Paw recently co-founded initiative iMekong, an online news and training hub for young environmental journalists wanting to report about the river. The project serves two purposes. Firstly, she and a team of friends and volunteers produce cross-border investigative reports and analysis. “Media expression and freedom of expression here in our region is under pressure,” she says. “Self-censorship and editorial censorship are common so we want to produce more independent journalism. Someone who will not just sit behind a computer, but go on field trips, see what it is out there and then publish.”

The aim is to develop a trans-border commons of writing on the Mekong River Region and at the same time help journalists in neighbouring countries to safely publish their work. The second purpose is to develop resources for use by other young journalists wanting to report about the Mekong. As such, Paw and her colleagues are working on a curriculum for one-on-one coaching workshops with a focus on helping young women reporters in the South East Asian region. They’ve also produced regionally specific best practice environmental reporting guidelines and training materials for any interested writers, available to download from the website.

The iMekong initiative began as Paw was winding up her time on the Mundus Journalism programme in Amsterdam in 2014. She was looking for a new project at the time and wanted a way to revitalize conversations about environmental issues in South East Asia. Before joining the Mundus Journalism programme Paw had worked as a reporter in Northern Thailand, filing stories about cash crops growing near the Mekong as well as investigating the increase in hydroelectric dams being built along the river.
She had always been interested in connecting the dots with environmental issues in the South East Asian Region and saw the programme as a way to add theoretical knowledge to her understanding of South East Asian media and communication systems.

She says an understanding of media framing has been influential to shaping her approach to her work with iMekong.

Paw wrote her thesis about online environmental petitions and how such campaigning frames issues. She says an understanding of media framing has been influential to shaping her approach to her work with iMekong. It was while she was writing her thesis that she realized the body of knowledge she was building was an ideal framework to create the website from.

iMekong is being set up as a not-for-profit social initiative and at the moment is run by volunteers. Paw hopes to grow the platform in order to create constructive dialogue around sustaining the Mekong River.
When she’s not busy working on the site she’s taken up a position as a lecturer in the journalism studies department at Chiang Mai University.

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