A word from our new president...

In his first column for the IFAJ E-News, new IFAJ president Mike Wilson shares his vision for the organisation, and celebrates the extraordinary networks it offers members, and the diversity of the IFAJ 'family'.

Send in your reports

2008 Congress organisers are keen to collects reports prepared by delegates who attended the event. Please send copies of your stories to Ulrike Raser at u.raser(at)bauernbund.at

New Zealand celebrates 50 years

Television journalist Tony Benny and newspaper journalist Tim Cronshaw scooped most of the prizes at the New Zealand guild's annual awards night. The event coincided with a national conference organised by the guild to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Read more...

IFAP president addresses Australian event

The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) has held its first ever national press club event in Canberra, the nation's capital. With help from networks made through the IFAJ, the ACAJ secured world farm leader Ajay Vashee as guest speaker to talk about global food security issues. A dairy farmer from Zambia, Vashee is the first president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers to come from a developing nation. To mark the occasion he was presented with a book by Australian photographer Fiona Lake who won a prize in last year's IFAJ Star Prize for Photograph. Read more...

Calendar showcases rural photographers

Stunning images of farming in Great Britain are featured in a publication being sold to raise funds for struggling farmers. Twelve members from the local Guild of Agricultural Journalists have provided photographs for a calendar produced by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, including IFAJ Star Prize winner John Eveson. The calendar proved so popular last year it had to be reprinted twice. The 2009 version is now on sale, with proceeds supporting people in the farming industry in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are experiencing financial hardship. Take a look at some of the images or order a copy on-line.

New website for Swiss guild

The Swiss guild for agricultural journalists launched a new website at an event in Berne on November 20. While the site is currently available only in German, president Adrien Krebs says there are plans to create an English version.

South African paper recognised for excellence

The Indaba Daily News has been recognised for excellence in publishing at the annual awards ceremony of the South African Publication Forum. The publication was named an overall finalist in this competition, making it one of South Africa's top corporate publications. Read more...

Bree takes gold

Northern Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists member Bree Rutledge collected a gold medal as editor of HorseWeek magazine at the UK Newspaper Society national awards in Manchester. The magazine's team received the Niche Publication of the Year award for the annual Stallion Guide they produce. It was described by judges as "a truly niche publication with a high level of editorial and great photography," with special praise for an iconic front cover.

Rural blog wins communication award

Long-standing New Zealand guild member, Pip Stevenson, has been given an award for science communication by the NZ Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science for her work on the Rural Network's Dig 'n' Stir blog. Institute president John Lancashire praised her efforts in covering science in using the new, online format, describing it as "communication beyond the call of duty to the wider audience".

Ulster guild goes back to college

Many Northern Ireland guild members returned to their old seat of learning in October when they met at the Greenmount College of Agriculture and Horticulture.

Copy, chat and coffee was the focus as college staff outlined innovations in horticulture that offer Ulster farmers opportunities to develop alternative enterprises. Read more...

International Green Week, Berlin - January 16 to 25, 2009

This major international exhibition for food, agricultural, and horticultural industries draws agricultural journalists and producers from around the world. Last year 5000 journalists from more than 70 countries visited the event, which also hosts an executive meeting of the IFAJ. Apply online for media accreditation or visit the official website to find out more about the event.

Knowledge Share Fair - Jan 20 to 22, 2009

Examples of good knowledge sharing practices in agricultural development and food security will be showcased at this event, hosted by five international agencies at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy. Find out more.

2009 IFAJ Congress - July 29 to August 5, 2009

Preparations are well in hand for the next IFAJ Congress, to be held in Forth Worth, Texas, in the United States. IFAJ members are being invited to Saddle Up and Catch the Cowboy Spirit. For more information visit the official website.

Issue November - December 2008

The Power of Networks

The power of networking with other journalists and communicators from around the world emerges as the central theme in this edition of IFAJ E-News. Connections made through the IFAJ, professional development activities, and events like the annual congress, have helped IFAJ members secure access to world farm leaders, set up briefings and farm visits during overseas visits, source skills in another country, and make new friends. The possibilities stand out for new IFAJ president Mike Wilson, who comments in his first column, the "IFAJ helps build real bonds between journalists from different cultures and countries." Don't forget, if you are experiencing trouble with formatting view the newsletter online here or subscribe here to receive it direct.

Liz Harfull, Australia
Managing Editor


Introducing the new IFAJ leadership team

A new but experienced team has been elected to lead the IFAJ. Award-winning United States editor and journalist Mike Wilson was elected unopposed as president after serving eight years as vice president. Previous treasurer Markus Rediger (Switzerland) is the new vice president, and former vice president of professional development, Owen Roberts (Canada) was voted Secretary General. James Campbell (Ireland) is treasurer. "The IFAJ is in good hands," Wilson commented after the election at the annual congress. Find out more about the new team in English or read this report in German.

Key IFAJ figures step down

The IFAJ paid tribute to two very important people at the 2008 congress. David Markey (Ireland) stood down after four years as president. Among the presentations made to him on the final night was a special photo album put together by incoming president Mike Wilson. The album contained pictures from David's time in office, supplied by IFAJ members from around the world. General Secretary Ulla-Mari Sundelin Ryytty (Finland) also finished up her time in office at the congress, after deciding not to seek re-election. View pictures from the event and listen to podcasts of speeches by Markey and Wilson courtesy of the Agwired blog.

Share the IFAJ experience

Missed out on attending the 2008 IFAJ Congress, or want to share your take on the experience with other delegates? One of the best ways to 'participate' is by visiting the blogs being kept by an increasing number of IFAJ members. The popular AgWired blog set up by Chuck and Cindy Zimmerman (USA) has videos, podcasts, stories and a great album of photos from the event. Freelancer Peter Read and journalist Steve Dubé provide their impressions on the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Great Britain website or you can read what guild chairman Joe Watson has to say on his blog. Canadian journalist Lilian Schaer posted a series of reports from Austria and Slovenia, pondering the similarities between the countries in battling just how little consumers know about how their food is produced. And Swiss delegate Markus Rediger wrote this story in German. Congress organisers are collecting reports from the event at the congress website and there is an official online picture gallery.

IFAJ launches new website

The IFAJ has a new website. The site carries many of the same features as before, but with a fresh new look, and in a format that is much easier to nativigate. Work is still being done on expanding and refining the content. In the meantime, we would be pleased to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Send them to IFAJ Vice President Markus Rediger at rediger(at)lid.ch.

Canadian wins Star Prize for journalism...

Canadian journalist Treena Hein has won the prestigious 2008 IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Journalism, sponsored by John Deere. In a break from tradition, the results were announced via the IFAJ website prior to the annual congress. Hein's story about growing hemp as an alternative crop was published in Small Farm Canada. Runner-up was Justin McCarthy from Ireland with an article on Brazilian beef production published in the Irish Farmers Journal. Find out more about the results and read the winning entries.

... while Australian snaps photography prize

Australia's Mike Dugdale has won the prestigious 2008 IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Photography from an impressive field of 118 entries, representing 18 countries. Dugdale was awarded the prize sponsored by DeLaval, after winning one of three categories in the competition, which was revamped this year to offer separate awards for the best photographs depicting production, people, and nature or landscapes. Read the full results and view the winning entries.

Award winners tell their stories

Ten travel scholarships were awarded to young journalists from around the world to attend the 2008 IFAJ Congress in Austria and Slovenia in September. The impressive young recipients of the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award and the new IFAJ-Alltech Professional Development Award for Young Journalists were asked to write about their experiences. Read the first selection.

Networking and the IFAJ - that's what it's about

The opportunity to network with your peers from around the world is one of the most valuable rewards of belonging to your national guild or association for farm journalists, photographers, editors and communicators. And those links can open doors to valuable contacts and rare experiences if you are planning to travel overseas as part of your work, as this story featured on the website of the guild in Great Britain well and truly illustrates.

The age of the specialist, or not?

Have you noticed an increasing need for journalists who specialist in particular subjects such as agriculture, or can a good journalist cover any subject? That is the question being posed by the Agricultural Communications Documentation Centre, which is interested in your view. Based at the University of Illinois in the United States, the centre suggests that as various subject areas expand in size, internationalize and become more complex and fast-changing, we can expect to see more specialized journalists and communicators. Send your thoughts and any examples you have come across to docctr(at)library.uiuc.edu

US journalist wins Bastiat Prize

Stories about government's role in solving the food crisis and fair trade helped American journalist Barton Hinkle to win the 2008 Bastiat Prize for Journalism. Now in its seventh year, the award is run by the International Policy Network to celebrate writers whose work clearly and wittily promotes the institutions of a free society. More than 250 entries were received this year from 50 or so countries. Read Hinkles winning stories and find out more about the award.

IFAJ network takes two young journalists to Switzerland

IFAJ networks helped two agricultural journalists from Australia and Canada make the most of their trips to Europe to attend the IFAJ congress. Alltech-IFAJ Young Leader Award winner Sarah Sutton from Canada visited a friend on an alp in central Switzerland, where he makes cheese in the summer. Catherine Miller from southern Australia went to a bull market in Thun and then visited a few dairy and cattle farms in the central and eastern part of Switzerland. Catherine won a national young leader in rural journalism award, also sponsored by Alltech and organised by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists. "I feel very lucky to have been invited to Swiss farmers' homes and to have gained an understanding of their businesses," she said after her visits.

Look into the web's past and plan for your future

The Internet Archive is a very useful tool little known by most web surfers. While its most prominent feature is the "Wayback Machine" there are several other features which might assist agricultural journalists in their duties. Find out more in this special feature prepared by Joe Zumalt as part of the IFAJ's professional development partnership with the Agricultural Communications Documentation Centre, based at the University of Illinois, USA.