Get ready for IFAJ Congress 2014

The 2014 Congress organizing committee has done an excellent job preparing details for how to best prepare and travel to the event this September.

One of the best ways to prepare is to receive the organizing committee’s newsletter (
Registration opens in February when full pricing details become available. Until then, be sure to check out the pre- and post- Congress tours ( and the full Congress agenda (

In the meantime be sure your passport is ready and you begin learning about all your travel needs. The organizing committee has put together information regarding traveling to and from the UK, visa information, currency and much more (

We look forward to seeing you at IFAJ Congress 2014. Its sure to be a good time for all the British Guild's Platinum year, we're greatly looking forward to welcoming our IFAJ friends and colleagues to our 'small island' and proudly presenting 'our agriculture' to you all, during a Congress to remember.

Communicating with IFAJ

The new IFAJ global office has now been established. Please direct all global office issues, such as those you would formerly have directed to Connie Siemes, to Anne Kluivers (globalassistant(at), the new IFAJ global assistant.

Kluivers will maintain contact with executive members, guild secretaries and the presidium. She is responsible for all incoming and outgoing correspondence, archiving and maintaining official documents. She also manages the IFAJ website in cooperation with the webmaster, the communications committee chair and the presidium member in charge of communications.

European Journalism Centre releases Verification Handbook

European Journalism Centre
The Netherlands

The first-ever guide for using user-generated content (UGC) during humanitarian emergencies was recently released by the European Journalism Centre (EJC).

The Verification Handbook ( will help journalists report the right information as a crisis unfolds.

The handbook provides exact methods needed to validate information, photos and videos shared by the crowd. Drawing on the experiences of practitioners from some of the world's premier news and aid organizations, the Handbook includes insights from BBC, Storyful, The Guardian, ABC, Buzzfeed UK, NHK, Poynter Institute, Digital First Media, the Tow Center, GigaOM, the Qatar Foundation's Computing Research Institute, the Internews Center for Innovation and  Learning, OpenStreetMap, Amnesty International, Circa, Meedan, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations , WITNESS, the Dart Centre Europe, and Shabab Souria.

An online version of Verification Handbook is available for free at, and a PDF, Kindle and Print version will be released in February. An Arabic version of the Handbook will also be released soon thereafter.

 The initiative is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, as well as by the African Media Initiative, and supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Program, the Ethical Journalism Network, Humanity Road and many other organizations.

New research results available on perceptions of global and domestic agricultural issues

New research focused on prevalent global and domestic agricultural issues is now available in the Journal of Applied Communications.

The study conducted by agricultural communicators Laura Kubitz, Ricky Telg, Tracy Irani and IFAJ vice-president Owen Roberts, discusses about the most important global and domestic agricultural issues to journalists, and what sources of information are used when reporting about agricultural issues.

Three rounds of data collection were utilized for the study Participants generated a list of important global agricultural issues included feeding a growing global population and water quality/quantity. The executives also identified a wide variety of sources they use to report about global and domestic agricultural issues, including government agencies, farmers, universities, online sources, professional organizations, commodity group websites and academic journals.

Country journalists "honing their lie detectors"

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center

Recent research in rural Australia reveals that country newspaper reporters continue the process of selecting and rejecting information, even in today's fast-paced, anonymous online environment. Researcher Josie Vine analyzed 10 regional non-daily newspapers in Victoria.

Findings prompted a conclusion that the country journalists selected and rejected information based on news values that support economic, political and social progress in their local communities.

They “have not lost sight of their primary strength—local reporting,” according to the research.

Read the abstract of this article,“News values and country non-daily news reporting,” at:

Check with the ACDC at for help in gaining full-text access.

Master Class and Boot Camp

José van Gelder
IFAJ Global Manager
The Netherlands

One of the many meetings during Berlin Green Week 2014 I attended was the 2014 Congress organizing team. Their enthusiasm for the upcoming Congress this September is totally contagious!

The upcoming Congress will again be combined with the Master Class and Boot Camp. The IFAJ Master Class is meant for journalists from developing countries that are not (yet) IFAJ members (coordinated by me). The Boot Camp is a program for upcoming leaders amongst the young agricultural journalists from IFAJ member countries, coordinated by IFAJ vice president Owen Roberts.

Program content is still being developed, but the meeting led to great ideas as well as consensus on who to invite. More details on this element to come, but in the meantime I would like you to know:

-    Salient parts of both classes will again be combined, as a  recommendation of former participants.

-    This year’s theme will be linked to the overall congress theme: innovation (in agriculture, but also in journalism).

-     The program starts  Monday, September 1 with our getting-familiar evening, followed by two intensive days of workshops and discussion.

-    We have a “GREAT Britain” team on the ground help us prepare.
It is still early but I am sure we are set for another fantastic pre-congress event. And remember: your guild can put forward a candidate for the Boot Camp competition, and sponsor a Master Class participant. So get involved, help a colleague and make a difference!

IFAJ News February 2014

IFAJ Newsletter Sponsor BEKINA®

Communicating the achievements of IFAJ

James Campbell
IFAJ Treasurer

Change is all around and the pace of change in communications is a challenge. Our activity as journalists is evolving to a more interactive process.

IFAJ communications has to move with the times and with the technology. It is proposed to make more use of social media channels and to put news on the website so that the news distribution is more timely. It is hoped that a system of e-alerts and tweets will draw attention to new items as these go up on the website.

As we consider that this is probably the last of IFAJ E-news in the current format, I think it is worthwhile to look back at a few of the achievements of IFAJ during the years of this e-news, which have seen a transformation in the federation’s activities.

The first IFAJ e-news was issued in March 2006. The IFAJ Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism program had just begun and that year it brought two young journalists to the annual congress of IFAJ, with support from Alltech. The following year it was expanded to support four bursaries and then in 2008 it was 10. Continuation of that program has provided opportunities for more than 60 young journalists over the years. The addition of the Boot Camp in 2011 and each subsequent year, also fully supported by Alltech, has added greatly to the experience for the young leaders.

The initiative of the Belgian Guild in 2010 to provide a Master Class for agricultural journalists from less developed countries has been taken on by IFAJ each year since then. This outreach has been generously sponsored by Dupont Pioneer and British American Tobacco (BAT), with support also coming from other organizations including some individual guilds and associations who are members of IFAJ. More than 30 colleagues from less developed countries, most of whom have no national association or guild, have been given the opportunity to participate in the Master Class and to interact with the young leaders prior to the annual congress. All then join the network of the congress. 

These programs are set to continue in 2014, being run in conjunction with the congress in Scotland. As treasurer, I wish to urge member guilds of IFAJ to assist. This can be done by funding one participant or by joining with another guild to provide the funds. It costs approximately 3000 euro per participant, covering airfare and other travel costs, accommodation and congress registration fees.

In 2012 and 2013, the Exposure-4-Development tour has taken almost 30 members of the guilds and associations to Africa to see for themselves the conditions and challenges facing the agriculture and food businesses in Kenya and Uganda. This has been sponsored by several organizations, with the main support coming from BAT.

During the lifetime of the e-news, IFAJ set targets for 2015 and achieved most of these by the end of 2012. I believe that IFAJ has not made enough effort to publicize such extraordinary achievements over this period. In that respect, more use could have been made of the e-news.  My hope is that the new means of communication will stimulate IFAJ to do a much better job of publicizing its achievements.

Final Congress plans presented in Berlin

Peter Hill
Great Britain

A Scots piper, the British Ambassador to Germany and Britain's government secretary for environment and rural affairs helped celebrate the launch to IFAJ executive members of the British Guild's plans for IFAJ Congress 2014 – Innovations from a small island.
A prestigious event in the British Embassy during International Green Week in Berlin followed a presentation of final plans for the Congress being held in September this year. The details were well received by journalists from around the world representing their guilds, associations and press clubs on the IFAJ executive committee.
“It was marvelous to have a celebration event at the British Embassy hosted by Simon McDonald, the Ambassador, and Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for environment and rural affairs,” says British Guild chair Jane Craigie. “I hope the event and the details they heard about our Congress plans will encourage them to get their members enthusiastic about coming to Britain in September to learn about the innovation that characterizes British agriculture and our food and drink industry.”
Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for rural affairs Richard Lochhead has already shown enthusiasm for the venture and it appears that British Government rural secretary Owen Paterson is now on board too, says Adrian Bell, co-chair of the Congress organizing committee.
“The Berlin launch event really highlighted to Mr. Paterson the importance and potential of our Congress in showcasing British agriculture,” he says, “so much so that he has cleared time in September so that he can be involved in the pre-Congress tour in London.”
Pictures from the Berlin event are on Facebook [] and the full program, as outlined to the executive committee, is set out on the IFAJ Congress 2014 website.
A pre-Congress tour for about 50 international journalists will be based at The Farmers Club on the banks of the River Thames in central London. It will take in visits to the Royal Botanic Gardens where the Millennium Seed Bank preserving thousands of species is maintained, the 4000-acre Leckford Estate in Hampshire owned by a major retail and supermarket chain,  London’s Smithfield meat market and two city farms.
Delegates will join their fellow journalists for the main event in Aberdeen after a sleeper train journey. Tours will give an insight into grain, sheep, beef, dairy and fruit production by visiting farms and estates in north-east Scotland, as well as food, whisky, renewable energy and other rural industry activities.
Journalists taking in the optional post-Congress tour will fly to Birmingham for farm and rural enterprise visits in the English Midlands and Wales, taking in the Duchy Home Farm owned by HRH The Prince of Wales, a renowned food center in the ‘foodie’ town of Ludlow, an innovative upland management project, and genomic DNA research to help improve sheep breeding.
Dates and timings are detailed on the IFAJ Congress 2014 website where members of IFAJ-affiliated organizations can sign up to receive the regular Congress newsletter. There is also information on traveling to Britain. Bookings for Congress delegates open in February when full price details will be available.

IFAJ contests seek the best agricultural journalists

Riitta Mustonen

IFAJ Secretary General

IFAJ is again searching for the best print, photo and broadcast journalists of the year.  Begin looking through your works that have been published, choose the best ones and submit them to the competition. Thanks to support from our sponsors, we are fortunate to offer four contests this year.

IFAJ Star Prize for Print
This award recognizes the best agricultural writing of the year among journalists in IFAJ member countries. One entry per country is allowed. Member countries create their own criteria for choosing their entrant.

Entries should be written in English, German or French. Translation assistance of 100 euros is available from IFAJ. This contest is sponsored by John Deere.

IFAJ Star Prize for Photography
Any guild member may enter one photo in each of the three categories: people, production, nature/landscape. This contest is sponsored by DeLaval.

IFAJ Star Prize for Broadcasting
This contest is for TV, radio and online stories. Guilds may only submit one entry per category audio and video, but any member may submit an entry to the online category. If your story is in a language other than English, entrants must provide a short summary in English. This contest is sponsored by IFAJ.

All contest entries must have been published in 2013. The deadline for these three awards is May 1, 2014.

IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism
Guilds can nominate their best young members  for the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award. Guilds can enter one young journalist 35 years of age or younger. From the applicant pool 10 winners are selected. They take part in a two-day Boot Camp before the 2014 IFAJ Congress in Scotland, and then join the congress. Alltech supports this contest with 1000 euros for each participant, which is used to cover registration and part of other costs. The deadline is March 1, 2014.

Learn more information about the awards and prizes at