Tob is the Information Officer, Earth Journalism Network (Global Programme) with Internews Network. He is a part of the strategic global team of experts who support environmental journalists, activists and media organizations around the world. He oversees the development, operation, content management and planning of EJN's digital platforms.


Hi Tob, Welcome to the Interview series with OpenSense Labs. Can you briefly explain about yourself and your work for our audience?

Hi, my name is Tob Surachart Somma, as you call me Tob. I am the Information Officer, I work for a program called Earth Journalism with Internews. Internews is an international NGO with its Headquarters in Bangkok. We develop media capacity in developing countries. Our nature of work is global. 

We indulge in various activities to support the media agencies and local journalists in the environment sector. We provide training, capacity building, grants, fellowships to the journalists to learn and broadcast their stories via our websites across the domains.   

We also provide technical support to journalists for learning new tools. 

How do you think technology is bringing a change in context to the environmental problems in the Asia-Pacific region?

Based on my experience and what we do here, technology is playing a vital role. We need technology to connect, to communicate your work and also to serve as a platform for the audience to convey their stories, considering we have a global presence and we have teams working in various parts of the world. It has become easier for different/remote regions around the world to connect and come closer. 

At Internews, we are using technology in almost every dimension from internal processes to providing online training to our audience. 

How has your journey been so far with Drupal in correlation with Plone? What made you take the plunge with Drupal?

When I joined Internews recently, we were using Plone but we wanted to change our website. Among the many options that we had on the table, Drupal is what we went with. 

We wanted to manage the website in Asia and it got difficult to find support for Plone. We wanted to move forward with a better CMS and Plone wasn’t fitting in. We did market research and found Drupal could be our answer. It is a versatile CMS with a lot of functionalities that cover our requirements of news websites, library resources, surveys, analysis and more. 

Compared to Plone, we are on our way to improvements and we look towards a better future with Drupal.  

How do you want to leverage Drupal in the next phase of development in terms of scalability and content management?

We know how our audience is moving to mobile. Thus, we need to make our websites more lean and agile. Not too heavy and not focusing only on the web. The mobile usage is gonna shoot up and we will need to review our responsive tech. We will also have to find a more sustainable way where the News section of the website can be revamped. 

In the coming times, journalism is more about presenting data, portrayals, and visualization of it. So, we want to make sure we deliver an attractive visualization of it with graphics and images, preferably an infographic approach. This needs to be fused with the mobile-friendly approach, more like data journalism blended with the visual approach. 

What changes do you foresee in the product development implementation in the next 3-5 years?

I think the development projects we have been doing are in huge chunks right now. In the near future, there will be a need to cut them into modular parts. A framework that can allow features like data visualization to thrive. Where a smaller team can also work on it on a granular scale. We will need that kind of map development that can go together with more lean and quick development, maybe plug and play additions. A whole website takes one year to develop, we now need a ready-made framework that can be plugged with the modular approach. 


Thank you, Tob, for your time and responses. We had a lovely time talking with you and we look forward to many more such insightful conversations. 

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