Unveiling the Truth: The Role of Investigative Journalism in Environmental Sustainability

Elisângela Mendonça & the importance of investigative journalism in the sustainability sector.

“We are holding companies and holding governments accountable for their doings. I think journalists, we play a key role in any healthy democratic society. So it’s our duty to just look into what they’re doing.”

Elisângela Mendonça on the Role of Investigative Journalism

In this episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion podcast, we had the privilege of hosting Elisângela Mendonça, an award-winning investigative journalist and senior forest investigator for Global Witness. Our discussion delved into the intricate world of investigative journalism, focusing on environmental coverage, climate breakdown, and human rights issues, particularly in the Amazon region.

The Role of an Investigative Journalist

“So I feel that what I can do and this is like, this is such a small part, what I can do is just keep pushing and keeping putting pressure on whoever is in charge, making the decisions for all of us. so I think I’m a bit of a romantic about journalist. and I really love what I do, and I’m very passionate about journalism because I think that journalism can help change the world for the better.”

Elisângela Mendonça

Elisângela’s candid and very humble response about her small part in a big industry spoke volumes about her dedication to her craft. Her work involves tracing supply chains, uncovering the truth behind corporate practices, and holding companies and governments accountable for their actions. This role is crucial in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.

Investigative journalism requires a significant amount of persistence and patience. Tracing supply chains and uncovering hidden truths is not an overnight task. It can take months or years to make crucial connections and uncover truths in a single investigation.

But journalists persevere everyday, even when it’s dangerous for them. These real-life storytellers play a vital role in holding powerful entities accountable, ensuring that their actions are transparent and just.

Elisângela’s candid and very humble response about her small part in a big industry spoke volumes about her dedication to her craft. Her work involves tracing supply chains, uncovering the truth behind corporate practices, and holding companies and governments accountable for their actions. This role is crucial in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.

Investigative journalism requires a significant amount of persistence and patience. Tracing supply chains and uncovering hidden truths is not an overnight task. It can take months or years to make crucial connections and uncover truths in a single investigation.

But journalists persevere everyday, even when it’s dangerous for them. These real-life storytellers play a vital role in holding powerful entities accountable, ensuring that their actions are transparent and just.

The Complexities of Investigative Journalism

One of the most well known, and challenging, aspects of investigative journalism is the research. Each investigation requires meticulous research and a deep understanding of the industries involved.

Companies and governments often bury information or hide behind opaque supply chains, so journalists that are dedicated to uncovering hard truths spend a lot of time reading through documents, reaching out to contacts who could be dead ends, and searching for clues in unlikely places. For example, Elisângela shared her experiences spending months reading through documents linking snacks production from big companies to deforestation in Peru.

The importance of collaborations also can’t be underestimated here. Good investigative journalism relies on working with local experts and organizations to gain insights and access to critical information. And sometimes that can be dangerous.

Risks and Challenges

We very bluntly asked Elisângela whether she’s ever felt like she’s in danger.

And she said yes!

“When you’re working on the ground, there are definitely risks because certain areas of the Amazon, they are violent areas. you don’t have law enforcement. So it’s very easy to be caught up in a dangerous or, complicated situation in a clash with ranchers or illegal loggers or illegal miners and that kind of thing.”

Elisângela Mendonça on the dangers of investigative journalism

Investigative journalism, especially in regions like the Amazon, comes with significant risks – even moreso than we had anticipated. On the one hand, journalists are uncovering secrets that governments and businesses are often trying to bury. If that isn’t scary enough, the job can take journalists into areas that are dangerous because they are investigating illegal or violent things that their perpetrators typically don’t want to be associated with.

What we didn’t realize, and we are grateful for learning, is how far larger publications go to maintain safety for their researchers. Elisângela said candidly, “The real risk is for local journalists that are based on the grounds that are based in the Amazon, for example. They are the ones also in the frontlines.”

A journalist from an international publication can go home, but the people they’re collaborating with at the scene? They are home. The transgressions they’re investigating are in their own backyards and because they’re physically there, local journalists often bear the brunt of the danger.

Elisângela Mendonça

Our Main Takeaway?

PROTECT LOCAL JOURNALISTS!

The conversation with Elisângela Mendonça highlighted the essential role of investigative journalism in the fight for environmental sustainability. We’ve got to continue supporting and amplifying the work of investigative journalists, ensuring that their findings lead to meaningful change!

Got a Tip or Want to Follow Elisângela’s Journey?

Follow her and Global Witness in all the usual places:

Website: https://www.globalwitness.org

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/global_witness/

Elisângela on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elis%C3%A2ngela-mendon%C3%A7a-72635811/

And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Youtube or wherever you get your podcasts. We post new episodes of EnvironMental with Dandelion on the first and third Wednesday of every month. And we write these blog articles to give an SEO backlink to our guests. (We are still a content marketing agency after all)

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