Continually Working

Karlie Elliott Bowman
IFAJ News Editor

As journalists you’re always working—working to find your next story, meet deadlines and locate expert sources. We’re doing the same with IFAJ News to better meet your needs. We’re pleased to let IFAJ News subscribers know that now, instead of receiving all three versions of the newsletter each month you can select the language of your choice to receive.

Here’s how— Click here to visit the IFAJ site to select the language you prefer to receive. Recipients need to enter their email address and select “click here to change or delete your profile.” You will then receive an email with a link to update the newsletter language of your choice. If you would like to receive the newsletter in more than one language please select those languages.

Please update your language preference before November 31, as subscribers will receive the December newsletter for only the languages they’ve selected.

Thanks for your help as we transition these subscriber lists. And please email me at k.elliott.bowman(at) if you experience issues or have questions.

A Report of the IFAJ and Agriterra Master Class

José van Gelder
The Netherlands

This year Agriterra invited 10 journalists from developing countries for the 2012 IFAJ Congress in Sweden. The Master Class ensures participation of rural journalists and communicators from developing countries.

The Master Class was designed to provide a dynamic, unique and comprehensive professional development experience focused on policy, agricultural issues, media trends and agribusiness, for journalists from developing countries, preferably linked to farmers’ organizations. Also, the class provides IFAJ members access to contacts in countries that are not federation members, but who are intricately involved in feeding an increasingly hungry world. The opportunity also introduces journalists to IFAJ so they might encourage their colleagues at home to become more involved with the IFAJ organization.

As IFAJ as a whole looks to become more global the Master Class is a crucial way to inform other countries of the organization and the resources available to members, as well as global contacts.

Click here to learn more about the 2012 Master Class, find a summary from Sweden, learn more about future plans for the Master Class and work being done to continually improve the experience.

British Guild Takes Fundraising to New Level

The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists held their traditional Harvest Service last month at 'the journalists church' of St Brides. One goal of the service is to fund raise for the Guild’s Yara Journalism Awards and charitable Trust.

Attendees enjoyed magnificent singing by the St Brides choir and a service generously sponsored by Guild member Howard Venters of Shepherd Publishing.

The Harvest Lunch that follows the service takes place at the world-famous restaurant Simpsons in the Strand and the Charing Cross Hotel.

For more about the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, click here.

Don't let ag media standards slip: a five-nation overview

Jim Evans

As a recent Nuffield Scholar, Caroline Stocks of the Farmers Weekly (UK) editorial staff set out to investigate whether there is a "best" way to communicate with farmers during this period of immense change. She learned plenty, according to the July 2011 report she presented to the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust after her visits in the UK, Canada, India, Australia, and USA. Her analysis ranged broadly across print media, online farm news, social media, and mobile technology.

She concluded:
"… I do not think there is a 'one size fits all' solution. Farming media need to get better at knowing their audiences so they can tailor their output accordingly. They need to stop thinking their staff can do everything, identify niches, and concentrate on doing certain aspects really well. Agricultural journalists I met repeatedly told me of feeling like they were being spread too thinly—it leaves them disheartened that they are not doing their job properly and left feeling that they are letting farmers down."

She emphasized that agricultural media hold positions of trust in the farming community and "it is important they do not betray that position by letting the standards slip."

You can read her report on the Nuffield website.

IFAJ News November 2012

International Networking Gives a Great Boost

Riitta Mustonen
Ifaj Secretary General

I had an honor to visit the 50th anniversary of the Norwegian agricultural journalist guild in October. They had a seminar on climate change and other important matters and after that we had a dinner.

I was expecting a big party, something like a congress closing banquet. But there we were on a bull station called Store Ree, with 24 people. We were all journalists, some of us already retired, and two foreign guests: Gudrun from Norway and myself from Finland and also representing IFAJ.

The group was about the half of the Norwegian guild’s fifty members. Oldest one was Svein Solli, 93 years old honorary member, who gave a speech recalling good old days as an ag journalist back in the sixties.

The milestones of the guild’s history had been the three IFAJ congresses this small guild has arranged, the most recent in 2006 in Hamar. Organizing such a big event has given the guild its spirit and power. There was no doubt that the international happenings were the core of the guild’s activity and liveliness.

It was of great significance that IFAJ was founded in the year 1956. It encouraged many countries to found their national guild – like Finland two years after in 1958, Norway six years later and so on.

Now, we are seeing the same flow: IFAJ is globalizing and new guilds are born and joining us: Argentina, Kenya, India. In the European Union we have ENAJ, European Network of Agricultural Journalists, which is also encouraging new countries like Cyprus, to form a guild.

These international organizations and networks, like IFAJ and ENAJ, bring us together and build up the community spirit of the national journalists. It’s great to see.

IFJA Members Tour Kenya

Marc van der Sterren
IFAJ/Agriterra Exposure-4-Development Media Tour Organizer

African agriculture is in many ways the opposite of western agriculture. And fifteen western IFAJ-members had the chance to explore these differences—including social, environmental, economic and climate issues. Current stories about feeding the world. And all this from a total different perspective.

These agricultural journalists from western countries made the journey of a lifetime, provided by Agriterra and IFAJ. In the context of the United Nations International Year of cooperatives, they visited Kenya, where cooperatives provide 45 percent of the nation’s income.

Journalists were confronted with scarcity on different levels, and were surprised about the benefits of small scale farming and the opportunities for small farmers.

The fifteen IFAJ-members visiting Kenya saw how small farmers make a living for their family on only one acre. Or make some extra money besides a job with only a quarter of an acre. Small farmers guarantee food security and employment. It increases the prosperity of the countryside. This is something international organizations and the Kenya government recognizes.

The journalists also visited milk cooperatives, saw coffee, tea, tobacco, vegetables, roses farm, pigs, and a cooperative bank. They also visited a Maasai cattle market with a slaughterhouse and a school, especially for pastoralists where they learn about the modern world; about economics, politics and above all about farming like the skills to grow and conserve grass.

Master Class was “tremendous experience” says African Journalist

John Mutama
IFAJ Master Class 2012

The Master Class and the 2012 IFAJ Congress in Sweden were a platform to share experiences, views, news and culture.

During our class, I had the opportunity to work with Nikolai Beilharz of Australia on a food quiz represent cuisine from our class’ home countries.

At a combined session with the Master Class and Boot Camp we learned about agricultural issues in other countries as far as agricultural journalism is concerned.

The topic on ethics in journalism was especially interesting. As a communicator and journalist I now have more respect for three interests: the publisher, the reader and the advertiser. I aim to become a more skilled communicator and journalist that can generate an interest within my readers to help them make informed choices and build their own views in the world in which they live. I believe the freedom of the press is fundamental to society.

Discussions about social media were also informative. Social media is not as popular in my country due to little access to the Internet. But after learning how Sweden has succeeded using social media, I am convinced this may also especially work for young farmers in Burundi. As we are using Facebook for friendships or personal issues, I can redirect ideas or goals and use it as a communication tool in agriculture.

One memorable experience of the class was setting up a blog and Twitter account, which I had dreamed of. The Master Class gave me the opportunity to learn all this. This was my first time to blog and tweet and it was the most tremendous experience ever. Tweeting Master Class news using #IFAJ2012 was fascinating-- I call it a passion.

Having participated in the Master Class and the 2012 IFAJ Congress was a tremendous experience. My special thanks to Agriterra for making my attendance possible.

A Look at Swedish Agriculture

IFAJ Boot Camp participant Lindi Van Rooyen of South Africa spoke with Helena Jonsson, president of the Federation of Swedish Farmers, during the IFAJ Congress in Sweden. They discuss Swedish agriculture policies, green practices, regulations and GMO’s. Read the full interview here from the South Africa Farmers Weekly.

Producing Enough Food for Growing World biggest issue in agricultural reporting globally, says new study

Producing enough food for the growing world is the biggest issue in agricultural reporting, says a study evaluating global and international perceptions of agriculture by ag journalists.

The study, designed to identify important global agricultural issues according to IFAJ executives, showed that in addition to producing enough food, water quantity and food safety were the top three issues.

Laura Kubitz, said she decided to do her thesis on this topic because they found it important to, “Identify the most important global and domestic agricultural issues because agricultural communicators excel in discussing and reporting about these issues to people within the agricultural industry. However, the press often neglects to write about global and domestic agricultural issues, leaving the general public in the dark about the issues affecting an important industry that has a significant impact on their lives. Our goal was to quantitatively show what the most important global and domestic agricultural issues were, as well as identify ways to educate reporters about those issues. Our hope is that providing a list of these issues will help streamline the efforts to engage with the general press.”  

Researchers looked at the important domestic agricultural issues facing each IFAJ country of the IFAJ. As well, they set out to identify resources journalists use to report on important global and domestic agricultural issues and the best ways to educate journalists about important global and domestic agricultural issues.

They also reported top agricultural issues by country and ways to educate journalists about agricultural issues.

Laura said, “I think the most important thing to take from this study was that respondents said face-to-face communication and engagement is one of the best ways to educate reporters about important global and domestic agricultural issues. It is important for agricultural communicators to get out there. It is easy to spend all day behind a desk. However, to really make an impact, it is vital that agricultural communicators facilitate opportunities for reporters to learn, face-to-face, what these issues are all about.”
The research team included University of Florida agricultural communications graduate student Laura Kubitz, professors Ricky Telg and Tracy Irani, and University of Guelph researcher and IFAJ Vice-President Owen Roberts.

Click here to read the study.

Predicted record high food prices in 2013

A recent report from Rabobank discusses world food prices and outlines the world agri-food industry for next two years. Click here to see the report.

Member journalists can opt to receive high quality information from the Rabobank research department. Rabobank and IFAJ have agreed that members can get access to the reports and documents of the Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) of Rabobank.