British Guild Elects New Chairman

British Guild of Agricultural Journalists

This story originally appeared on the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists site (

The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists recently elected new chairman, Jane Craigie.

Craigie is an avid enthusiast for what the Guild represents, and especially the opportunities raised by the Guild’s hosting of IFAJ Congress 2014 in north-east Scotland next year.

Craigie is well versed in the essential factors that make a successful event or campaign. As a PR and marketing communications specialist, she is involved with the Oxford Farming Conference, the Cereals Event and Go Rural, a new campaign to encourage rural tourism among the residents of Scotland’s cities.
She is well versed in the essential factors that go towards creating a successful event or campaign and over the past 18 months has applied her expertise and energies to helping make the forthcoming congress a success.

“This is not just a great opportunity for us to promote internationally the innovation we see in British agriculture while networking with like-minded journalists from around the World on home soil,” says Craigie. “I think Members and Friends of the Guild who get involved will get a lot of personal satisfaction from contributing to the success of this unique, once-in-a-lifetime event.

“I cannot emphasize enough how much we need your support, energy and contacts to deliver a fabulous congress in 2014,” she adds. “Please don't sit back and let others do it – get involved, however much or little you can.”

As far as her stewardship of the Guild is concerned, among Craigie’s objectives for her two years in office are to successfully implement the Guild's new legal status and associated administration; maintain the Guild’s status as a 'must join' organization for journalists, communicators and supportive friends in the rural sector; and enhance opportunities for Guild members to participate in valuable professional training. “And I shall also lead and support our strong, engaged council members who deliver so much to the running of the Guild and its activities,” says Craigie.

For her day job, Craigie works on marketing strategy, creative design, public affairs, visual communication and web/e-marketing for a number of corporate clients in agriculture, utilities, and food supply chain. She works from a home office at Netherdale near Turriff in Aberdeenshire with her husband Mike Whittall and escapes the hustle and bustle when she can to the cottage they renovated (and rent out) at Sandend on the north Aberdeenshire coast. They also produce beef and (soon) pork from their 12 acres of land.

"All good print magazines go to digital heaven…or do they?"

Jim Evans
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center
That is the title of a commentary we added recently to the ACDC collection. Writing in Folio magazine, author Samir Husni questioned whether a shift from print form to digital-only "is really a heaven-sent opportunity." Or is it, instead, "a gentle nudge by the minions of magazine hell to push it into its final resting place?"

One example he cited involved Gourmet magazine as "another headstone in the 'ink-on-paper cemetery'" when Condé Nast ceased printing it in 2009 in favor of an app for iPad called Gourmet Live.

You can read this commentary at:

IFAJ News April 2013

Who tells the true story?

Riitta Mustonen
Secretary General

Consumers were shocked recently when they saw videos that activists had taken secretly on pig and chicken farms. They felt misled and decreased their meat consumption.

This raised a discussion among agricultural journalists in Finland: whose duty is it to tell consumers about modern agriculture? Show them how animals are treated on big and efficient farms, point the fact that if you want cheap food, the cost is this. No more farming by the style of the Little House on the Prairie.

But is it our duty as agricultural journalists to inform consumers?

This was asked in a debate organized by Finnish Agricultural Journalists guild. A member of the guild, Elina Lappalainen had written a book about animal welfare, Grown to eat, and won the prize for the best non-fiction book of the year.

Lappalainen challenged journalists to go to farms and tell people about the real circumstances, show the audience how food is produced nowadays on farms.

Lappalainen told journalists they have outsourced reporting to the authorities and activists instead of telling the story themselves. Journalists rather quote authorities, researcher and other sources than go to the spot and report directly what they hear and see.

One problem seems to be that at least in Finland in the common newspapers/tv/radio there are not any journalists who are specialized in agriculture. The editorial staff is reduced to the minimum and there is less and less time for investigative journalism.

We, who call ourselves agricultural journalists, work mainly in the professional site communicating to the people who are already inside the branch. The viewpoint and message is then different.

But maybe also we could change the perspective. If we find out that for example animals are suffering due to the lack of legislation, this could lead to changing the laws.

The fact is that if consumers don’t know enough about farming, they are not willing to pay more for better food producing.

Participants selected for 2013 Young Leaders award

Ten participants have been selected for this year's IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism award.
The award supports the winners’ participation in an IFAJ congress and in an intensive journalistic boot camp-style workshop. This year’s boot camp takes place August 30-31, prior to the IFAJ congress in Argentina.

The successful applicants for 2013 are:

1. Jennifer Latzke, journalist, High Plains Journal (USA)

2. Frida Jonson, web editor, ATL (Sweden)

3. Carla Wiese-Smith, livestock editor, The Land (Australia)

4. Kim Waalderbos, freelance farm writer and farmer (Canada)

5. Darren Carty, livestock specialist, Irish Farmers Journal (Ireland)

6. Rouven Zietz, editor of JOULE, renewable energy magazine (Germany)

7. Tienke Wouda, editor of Nieuwe Oogst, Dutch Farmers’ Union magazine (Netherlands)

8. Jyotika Sood, journalist in magazine Down to Earth in (India)

9. Alita van der Walt, editor, Farmer’s Weekly (South Africa)

10. Alona Novichkova, broadcast journalist (Ukraine)

Candidates were nominated by their respective agricultural journalism guilds.  The selection process consisted of points for a written submission, judges’ impression of the candidates’ leadership potential, their proven leadership abilities and a narrative explaining their interest in the young leaders’ program.
The judges for the 2013 competition were IFAJ executive members Marianne Mork of Norway, Jacques van Outryve of Belgium and Antonio Brunori of Italy. Competition coordinator is Riitta Mustonen, IFAJ Secretary General.

Almost 70 young journalists have strengthened their skills and expanded their global network through this program, now in its eighth year. IFAJ appreciates greatly of the vision of Alltech founder and president Dr. Pearse Lyons in supporting up-and-coming leaders in agricultural journalism this way.   

“This award exists thanks to the vision, generosity and constant support of Alltech, particularly its emphasis on youth development,” says Mustonen. “IFAJ greatly appreciates Alltech's commitment to the future of agricultural journalism and to our federation.” 

“Stories are important. They help people to connect and to remember, which is why it is essential that we encourage young writers, broadcasters and photographers in the field of agriculture,” said Lyons. “In an age of disconnect from the farm, we need creative and strong storytellers who can communicate our story to the next generation.”

About Alltech:
Alltech improves the health and performance of animals, plants and people through natural nutrition and scientific innovation. With more than 3000 employees in 128 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle-East, Africa and Asia. For further information, visit Alltech is the proud title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy. For more information about these prestigious global championships, visit    

Let’s tango- in the world’s grainery!

Please invite your guild members to register for the congress in Argentina.

This congress is an unique opportunity to travel to a far corner of the earth, and set foot in new lands that you have never seen before. Get ready to follow in the footsteps of the early European explorers, to discover a rich culture in a country that stretches to one of the southernmost points of the world, in a land once referred to as “the world´s grainery.” Argentina is a land that has tripled its production in the last 30 years and feeds more than 430 million people each year.  It is propelled by advanced technologies and sustainable agricultural practices, and famous for its agricultural economy.

IFAJ congresses offer great value for the experience.

For more information and to register go to . I am looking forward to meeting you in Buenos Aires.

Saludos cordiales   
Markus Rediger, President IFAJ

Guild support, a new phenomenon

The IFAJ has a new ‘phenomenon’: guild support. It’s part of the new strategy of the IFAJ. The general assembly agreed on a plan for IFAJ to become a more global organization. Guild support is one of the ‘instruments’ to achieve it. It means support of new member guilds/associations and support of existing member guilds/associations, especially those who have problems.

The Dutch executive Hans Siemes is the first guild supporter. He has started up this new activity. He will do the voluntary job until the IFAJ-congress in Argentina. His focus is on the new guilds/associations that came in the last few years: India, Philippines and Kenya. Good contact and good information are the tools he uses. “In the past the general assembly agreed on an application for a new membership and that was that. “You need to take the new members by the hand, so they can get involved in the IFAJ-family”, Hans Siemes says. He sends e-mails to point the new members on opportunities as the Star Prize awards or the bootcamp for young leaders. With success. In Argentina Jyotika Sood, agricultural journalist from India and member of the Indian association will take part in the bootcamp. New members from less developed countries should have a preferred position for taking part in IFAJ-activities as the master class and the bootcamp for young leaders, Hans Siemes stipulates.    

There are more activities to be done. One of the goals is to develop a toolkit which all member guilds/associations can use. “There are so many experiences in member guilds/associations of which others can benefit. Ideas for activities, but also ideas how to fund these activities.” The goal is to get the toolkit ready this year.

In Europe guild support will work together with the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ). In South America there are ideas too to build such a network. Argentina is in the lead to get other countries involved in this idea. There are already contacts with Uruguay where agricultural journalists and communicators  have created a new guild.