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IFAJ News June 2011

Why the Serbian IFAJ Press Tour Succeeded

Mike Wilson
IFAJ President
USA

By now many of our IFAJ colleagues have heard about the tremendous success of the Serbian press tour, organized by our colleagues at Agropress, the Serbian Association of Agricultural Journalists. IFAJ executive Goran Djakovic had been giving us updates about this event for the last 18 months.

Goran wanted journalists to see first hand what his country had to offer from a horticulture and agriculture standpoint. Over 50 working journalists and photographers from 18 countries attended the six-day tour, held May 18-23.

We weren’t disappointed. Over those few days we interviewed and photographed organic farmers, entrepreneurs, agribusiness owners, and the top political leaders in Serbian government. We visited the largest farm show in the country, and later, toured a very secluded region where agritourism is beginning to take off. We met some large and small-scale fruit producers, showcasing why Serbia is a leading producer in raspberries and other products.  We experienced wonderful hospitality, especially when we had lunch at Goran’s family home. You really get to know your colleagues a bit more when you meet family members.

Many of us came to Serbia because we had never seen this region of the world. Pretty much everyone knows about the conflict that took place here; As journalists, we wanted to know what it was like today, and what was the outlook for the future? We saw it as an opportunity to satisfy a curiosity and share what we could learn with our readers and viewers back home.

Why did it work so well? First, this was a press tour put together by the working journalists at Agropress. It was not put together by a public relations firm, corporate sponsor, or a tourism company. That meant that real journalists were making judgments about the kinds of things other journalists would be interested in.

Second, this event was priced right for working journalists. There were a lot of young people on our tour bus, and when I talked to them about why they came to Serbia, they said it was easy to justify to their supervisors or editors back home. The cost – just 200 euros for everything, including hotel and meals – was a great bargain.

Third, this event helped showcase what good things can happen in IFAJ. We got to meet some journalists from non-IFAJ countries, such as our new friends in Macedonia and Latvia. The press tour ended up being a good opportunity for IFAJ to extend a hand of friendship.

Lastly, this event succeeded because our Serbian colleagues took active roles. Our tour guide was Marina Tanaskovic, vice-president of communications at Agropress. Just 24, she had never been a tour guide, but she did a tremendous job moving a lot of people around over six days. Marina was patient and did a remarkable job translating interviews, even as a mob of journalists with microphones and notepads pressed in on our subjects.

Marina was one of many young people we met from Agropress. Over the years I have met some of them at different IFAJ events, but to see them all here, working together, even as they worked to complete their own reporting assignments, was a good omen for the future.

Of course, the future is still a big question for Serbia. The economy is suffering; incomes are low. When I talked to these young reporters individually, they told me they want to stay in Serbia but that opportunities are lacking. We can only hope this situation improves with ascension into the European Union.

Still, I have faith in the future. We left Serbia with the feeling that a new generation of young professional communicators would play an important role as Serbia rebuilds toward prosperity.

I’m fairly sure Goran did not realize it when he organized the tour so many months ago, but I believe this event could serve as a model for other press tours in other countries. If you are thinking about organizing a similar event, I urge you to get in touch with myself and Goran and give it a try. Or talk to one of the participants on this tour and you’ll find out for yourself why it was such a success.

Photos from Serbia

Welcome to the June edition of IFAJ News


This is an action packed issue, which I greatly hope you enjoy and can learn from. In this issue you will find updates on recent IFAJ activities, updates from your colleagues and details on upcoming events.

Always, many thanks to everyone who sent in news items and I encourage you to please continue doing so. As we prepare for next month’s newsletter, we would like to know what issues are important to you, as agricultural journalists, in your countries and why? Send your news at any time, but for the next issue please send it by July 10. Also, please never let language be a hurdle for sending in ideas or news items. Feel free to respond in your native language and we will work together to share your news items.

Thanks for your support and for reading IFAJ News.
Karlie Elliott Bowman
Editor
k.elliott.bowman(at)gmail.com

IFAJ News going multilingual

Stephen Cadogan
IFAJ Communications Chairman
Ireland

Plans are under way to issue this newsletter in a multilingual form.

Thanks to progress in securing German translation services, the newsletter will be transmitted in a German-language version, as well as English. August is the target date for this.

One of the arrangements we must put in place for this pilot program is to find an English and German-speaking volunteer to review the German text before it is published. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Communications Chairman Stephen Cadogan at stephen.cadogan(at)examiner.ie.

The improved newsletter service to German-speaking agricultural communicators is being made possible with help from University of Illinois colleagues of Jim Evans and Karlie Elliott Bowman of the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Efforts are also under way in IFAJ to put in place a Spanish-language version of our monthly newsletter.

Owen Roberts, IFAJ Secretary General said, "The documentation center has been a strategic ally with IFAJ for several years, with meaningful features and contributions to the new website, content for the newsletter and other initiatives. This latest development shows the value of global agricultural journalism and communications relationships.”

Planning for IFAJ Congress 2012

Lena Johansson
Sweden

Farmers can be great contributors to a sustainable society. That’s why we have chosen the theme Solutions for a Green Future for the IFAJ Congress 2012.

Agriculture and forestry can offer several solutions to problems such as climate change and energy crisis. The Congress in Stockholm, Sweden August 15-19th 2012, aims to show these different solutions.

“Conserving resources is key in our business. It’s a bonus that conservation is beneficial to the environment too,” said farmer Teri Lee Eriksson, born in Kansas, but rooted in Sweden since 1982.

Preparations for the Congress in Stockholm have been going on for a long time. A website will be launched in October 2011 and registration will open early 2012. Everyone who registers for the congress will be rewarded with a book about Swedish agriculture and forestry, so you are well prepared when we welcome you in August 2012.

EU Looks for closer ties with IFAJ

Hans Siemes
The Netherlands

Stephen Cadogan
IFAJ Communications Chair
Ireland

Representatives from 13 of the 27 EU member states took the first steps towards setting up a European Network for Agricultural Journalists at a recent meeting in Brussels.

The Agriculture Directorate of the European Commission hosted the meeting, and committed to facilitate and sponsor certain activities of  the Network.
A network  co-ordination committee is being set up, and one of their first main tasks will be to  organise the first full meeting of the European Network for Agricultural Journalists, probably in early December, 2011.

The EU administration has been keen to help journalists from the Union’s 27 member states to get to know each other, and to discuss the idea of an EU platform for journalists interested in agriculture and rural development. The topic was part of discussions between IFAJ and the European Commission during Green Week in Berlin last January.

Member states represented at the recent Brussels meeting were Austria,  Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, and the UK.

Canadian Farm Writers hold meetings across the country

Allison Finnamore
Canada

The six regional guilds that make up the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation (CFWF) are currently in the midst of their spring tours and annual meetings.

The Alberta Farm Writers' Association gathered in the southern part of the province -- very close to the border with the United States, in early June. Member Alexis Kienlen, who is also a member of the CFWF executive, says the tour was called "All Fired up about Wind and Water." The gathering included tours of farms and facilities to learn about wind power, irrigation, greenhouses and envirosciences, including watershed protection, fungicide biological controls and the effect of toxic chemicals on fish, Kienlen says.

The border with the United States also played a role in the annual meeting of the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association. President Maureen Fitzhenry says they met recently to learn about a government-related export mission program aimed at matchmaking export-ready Manitoba food firms with buyers in the United States.

The Atlantic Canada Farm Writers' Association met in mid-June in Truro, Nova Scotia, a central location for that region of the country. Vice-President Andy Walker says tours included a cranberry bog, a farm market which has grown from farm gate sales to a major tourist destination and a visit to the local agricultural university.

Master class preview: From journalist to journalist

José van Gelder
Senior communications advisor, Agriterra
The Netherlands

As part of the IFAJ 2011 Congress “Experience New World Agriculture” in Canada, IFAJ and Agriterra from the Netherlands are organizing the second master class for journalists from developing countries, called “Experience Another (Agri)culture”. The master class will be held in Guelph, September 11-12 and is sponsored by Pioneer, a DuPont business.

This initiative actually dates back to 2003, when the IFAJ Congress was held in the Netherlands. Agriterra organized the participation of several journalists from developing countries, and the idea was born. Last year, the Belgian guild asked Trias and Agriterra to organize a two-day workshop for eight journalists from Africa and S. America, prior to the congress. An EU grant that Trias and Agriterra received that year meant there were no additional costs.

The success of the event led to the idea of combining the master classes for ag journalists from developing countries with at least three upcoming annual congresses (Canada, Sweden, Argentina). Workshops are given by IFAJ member journalists, which makes it a real peer-to-peer event. José van Gelder from Agriterra (also an IFAJ member) is in charge of the organization of the master class and also for nominating the attending journalists from developing countries, who are mostly connected to organizations of smallholders and family farmers.

The master class contributes in a unique way to Millennium Development Goal 1, which is reducing hunger and poverty. Ag journalism is a powerful means to inform farmers on issues that help them in their day-to-day work. Moreover, if a newspaper, magazine or broadcast outlet is linked to the farmers’ organization, it also gives farmers a voice.

The master class has a two-fold thrust. First, it provides a dynamic and comprehensive professional development experience focused on skills, agricultural issues, media trends and agribusiness, for journalists from developing countries. Second, it gives IFAJ members access to contacts in countries that are often not federation members, but who are intricately involved in feeding an increasingly hungry world. That means it contributes to creating awareness on the role and position of farmers and their organizations worldwide.

This also establishes IFAJ as a serious organization involved in giving members the kinds of opportunities to report on important issues that are both agricultural and humanitarian related.

The master class contributes to the large number of countries that will be represented at the congress this year. Participants are expected from China, Burkina Faso, Guinea, India, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Armenia, Congo and Madagascar. Agriterra’s involvement ensures the participation of genuine rural journalists, based on its vast experience with producer organizations and farm-related media in developing countries.

Apart from these journalists, the Dutch guild will sponsor the attendance of the journalist from Madagascar and the Belgium guild will sponsor the Congolese delegation.

The first day of the master class will be combined with another new IFAJ initiative: the Boot Camp for Young Leaders, sponsored by Alltech.

The organizing committee consists of José van Gelder, Jacques van Outryve, Hans Siemes and Douwe Korting. Coordination with the congress organizers is done by IFAJ Secretary General Owen Roberts and Canadian farm writer Kim Waalderbos.

For more information on the master class, contact José at vangelder(at)agriterra.org.

Australian rural journalists heading to IFAJ congress in Canada

Jane Milburn
Vice-President
Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists

Four Australian rural journalists have won professional development opportunities as part of an expanded awards program developed by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists and its state-based rural media clubs.

Television journalists Pip Courtney and Kathy McLeish, and print journalists Ashley Walmsley and Richard Fox, will all travel to Ontario, Canada, in September to attend this year’s International Federation of Agricultural Journalists congress.

Pip Courtney won the Rabobank Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting for her ABC Landline story ‘Pipe Dreams’ about the coal seam gas industry and its impact on farmers, while Ashley Walmsley won the John Deere Star Prize for Rural Writing for ‘Asian Invasion’, a cover story about the Asian honeybee incursion in Australia published in Good Fruit and Vegetables which he edits for Rural Press Ltd.

These winning entries will now represent Australia at the international level in the prestigious Star Prize competitions run by the IFAJ.

As a state finalist in the rural writing award, Richard Fox is being funded by the Farm Writers’ Association of New South Wales to attend the congress, while Kathy McLeish is being funded by the Rural Press Club of Queensland. Fox writes for Rural Press Ltd, while McLeish works for the ABC’s 730 Queensland.

ACAJ President Liz Harfull said the council very much appreciates the contribution of award sponsors John Deere and Rabobank in rewarding excellence with professional development opportunities for the winning journalists.

“Quality writing and broadcasting about farming issues is important for the rural sector because it helps spread the word about the contribution of agribusiness and food production to society,” Harfull said.

For more information and to view the winning entries visit www.acaj.org.au.

A new year on the road

Carlos Curci González
President
Argentina Board of Agriculture Journalist
Argentina

Another year for the "Programa Capacitar" (Training Program) started on April 4. It is indeed the third one, but it is also unique if we consider that, in the whole world, it is something of a rarity that specialized agrifood industry journalism training exists—in this case, Argentina’s food and agriculture industry.

Argentina is the first country in the world to develop such a project. We have more than 400 journalists (with and without a degree) who live or struggle to live by talking and giving information about farming issues. The Programa Capacitar was created because here, in Argentina, there are many of us who do this for a living, because we want to grow, but, above all, because we want to be better.

Do we need any improvements? No doubt about it. Agricultural journalists must strive to always properly broadcast information on such a complex industry. Also, in Argentina to bridge the clear though illogical split between rural communities who wish to share their opportunities and difficulties, and urban communities who appear not willing or able to understand.

The Programa Capacitar, created in 2008 by a group from the Argentine Circle of Agricultural Journalists and the University of Buenos Aires Agronomy School (CAPA and FAUBA, by their Spanish acronyms, respectively), aims to every year train groups of journalists with a capital J, professionals who have made an effort to study and face those challenges. Testimonies given by former students show proof that the Program offers useful tools, both from a journalistic and agronomic viewpoint, in order to be better. That is our idea.

The new year, 2011 started with a total of 45 students from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, a very special array of students who work in the program together with a group of teachers made up of working journalists and the best of FAUBA’s teachers. Moreover, several companies and entities from the food and agriculture industry have given their support, since they know that more committed and professional communications skills are needed in the middle term.

A new agreement

Thanks to an inter-institutional agreement made with PROSAP (the Provincial Program on Agricultural Services), which has provided grants for state employees who have a connection to the rural industry, this year students from the Programa Capacitar have benefited from the arrival of a dozen communicators who work for INTA (the National Institute for Agricultural Technology) and other entities. We welcomed them! That the public sector can count on well-trained communications professionals is an essential requirement so that we can all grow.

Opinion

“The hallmark of this third edition of Web 2.0 and Digital Journalism within the Capacitar’s curriculum were the deep and exhaustive discussions about the journalists' role in virtual media, analyzing changes in the professional daily routine and challenges and potentialities to come in the future of our careers, at least in the short term. There have been high-level and extremely enriching discussions. Personally, I feel very pleased and happy for this chance to ‘discuss’ and interact within this community, not from a teacher's standpoint, but taking into account that we are all learning, experimenting and making history,” María Soledad Casasola, Web 2.0 and Digital Journalism teacher in the Program.

The AJCDR encourages young journalists to join the association

Jules Ravelomanana
Madagascar

Numbers are declining in the Association of Journalists and Communicators in Rural Development (AJCDR) in Madagascar, as founding members retire. However, new journalists are being identified through TV and radio stations.

During the evaluation session of the two rural radio stations in May, in Antananarivo (radio projects supported by Switzerland - Mampita in Fianarantsoa and Morondava, in Mangneva, both are run by women) participants found that leading and undertaking radio stations in rural areas is viable. Yet, they lack a policy of openness and affiliation. The AJCDR invites them to join the Association to give them guidance, or at least they can benefit from annual courses such as the IFAJ Congress and programs for young journalists.

American Agricultural Editors Support Japan

Den Gardner
Executive Director
American Agricultural Editors Association

The American Agricultural Editors are supporting Japanese colleagues by contributing $9,685 (U.S.). This donation is to aid with relief efforts being felt from the earthquake/tsunami. Ten national North American agriculture communications organizations, in conjunction with a handful of individual contributions from AAAEA members will be used to support rural Japanese who are involved in farming.

Spending time communicating about agriculture

Stephen Cadogan
IFAJ Communications Chair
Ireland

The latest IFAJ website poll asked, “How many hours per week do you work in agricultural communications?”

Of the 61 website users participating in the poll, the results seemed typical of many professions. Ten respondents said they worked less than 35 hours, 24 worked 35 to 45 hours, 11 worked 45 to 55 hours, six worked 55 to 65 hours, and 11 said they worked more than more than 65 hours per week in agricultural communications.

Check out the current poll on our website, which will show which web services members would find it most difficult to work without. Go to http://www.ifaj.org to weigh in.

Ireland Guild mourns loss of members

Stephen Cadogan
IFAJ Communications Chair
Ireland

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland is mourning the recent loss of two esteemed members whose deaths were covered widely in the national media.

Both came to prominence in the public service national broadcaster, RTÉ. Political, farming and food industry leaders attended the funeral of Joe Murray, former head of farming programmes, who died  aged 74.

Peter Murphy, who died at age 88, became known as the voice of rural Ireland for the programs he presented on Radio Éireann. He was also an organizer in the early days of Ireland's top farmers’ organizations.

Meanwhile, Damien O’Reilly, also of RTÉ, has taken over as chairman of the southern section of the  Guild.