A free media is vital for a free world

Markus Rediger
Switzerland
President,  IFAJ

Journalists are highly vulnerable as professionals, and their protection must be ensured for the greatest possible free and independent reporting.

But that’s not the way it is everywhere. What do the Pakistani Khuzdar District, the Mexican state Veracruz, the Somali city of Mogadishu and the Philippine Cities Manila and Cagayan de Oro have in common? The organization Reporters Without Boundaries say they are the most dangerous places for journalists. More than ever, journalists are harassed in many places worldwide. When that happens, transparency and credibility fall by the wayside.

IFAJ holds the freedom of press as one of the basic principles of our professional work. We want to stick to it in our process of becoming a more worldwide organization and reaching out to journalists in new countries.

In adopting the new strategy, at our delegate meeting in Sweden we decided to support guilds in need, but also encourage journalists in countries without guilds to get together and start associations.

We realize that in all parts of the world there is a need to form guilds. In Europe we can count on the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ) where many colleagues are active and provide advice to countries such as Cyprus, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia on setting up own new agricultural journalists associations. In December I was invited to the meeting of the ENAJ and the discussion with colleagues was inspiring. Talking to each other face to face we realize that many of us are up against the same challenges. At our next meeting of the IFAJ executive committee, ENAJ chairman Jef Verhaeren will report about the network‘s projects.


Contacts with other countries in Africa such as Cameroon, Burundi and Zimbabwe, as well as in Asia and Latin America, challenge our new strategy to reach out and support the colleagues there. In our next executive meeting this will be on the agenda, as well as a seminar about freedom of the press in Balkan countries.

At our annual congress in Sweden, communications specialist Benoit Passard from DeLaval pointed out a professional ag press is crucial for a free press in a democracy.

In the new year 2013 we look forward to working on implementing our new strategy, defining priorities in our committees and having the first IFAJ congress in a Latin American country -- in Argentina! We are also happy to welcome India as new member to our meetings this year and to further develop contests and professional development activities.

We count on the support of our guilds and members as well as our partners and sponsors to reach the ambitious goals as a volunteer organization in 2013.