A celebration of the annual congress . . . online
The annual congress is IFAJ’s flagship event. Hosted by a different member guild each year, Congress brings together IFAJ members from all over the world for an immersive few days in a country’s agriculture. While normally the IFAJ Congress is hosted in a different country every year, this was unfortunately not possible due to the health and safety regulations put in place because of COVID-19.
Despite the difficulties posed by this circumstance, it provided the opportunity to offer IFAJ members with new insights without even leaving their homes: the 2020 Congress became an “eCongress”, held online from 22-26 June 2020, and the recordings of the sessions are now accessible to anyone regardless of location.
The IFAJ Congress has now been rescheduled to 2021 in Denmark, so these professional development sessions became a week of online activity to celebrate the spirit of the congress, including the online Delegate Assembly.
Freedom of the Press
Video recording of the webinar session presented on 22 June 2020
This session addresses the importance of journalistic freedom and integrity, and the vital part it has in a democracy through its expression and oppression.
First Speaker: Per Henrik Hansen
Per Henrik is an award-winning freelance agri-food journalist based in Denmark.
Second Speaker: Richmond Frimpong
Richmond is the Deputy News Editor and Executive Producer at Promise Broadcasting, as well as the President of the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA).
Third Speaker: Steve Werblow
Steve Werblow is a freelance agricultural journalist and photographer, as well as the IFAJ Vice-president.
Main points of the presentation
- Per Henrik Hansen discusses the role of journalistic integrity in the media in Denmark, as well as his personal experiences with external pressures on his freedom to write objectively, and how this has affected his career. His stories exemplify that there is no place on Earth where journalists haven’t, at some time, struggled to investigate the truth.
- Richmond Frimpong describes the freedom of the press in the context of the political climate in Ghana, as well as his own personal experiences and those of his colleagues when it comes to the dangers associated with speaking out against powerful figures, whether it be politicians or businesspersons.
- Steve Werblow describes the pressures journalists face in the United States and discusses the roles newspapers have in promoting biased or one-sided opinions instead of allowing journalists to present facts and readers to make up their own minds. He further explores the roles of communicators in being useful sources for leads and providers of good information.
- Open discussion and Q&A. Listeners ask all speakers questions pertaining to their personal stories and add their own perspectives from their part of the world. All webinar members explore different ways in which IFAJ can uphold the freedom of the press, and different resources they can provide for doing so.
Agricultural Journalism & Communications in a post-COVID-19 context
Video recording of the webinar session presented on 23 June 2020
This session addresses the COVID-19 situation and the role of agricultural journalism and communications in working with farmers to supply them with pertinent information as well as assist them get their message out.
Speaker: Theo de Jager
Theo de Jager is president of the World Farmers Organization, a former president of the South African and Pan-African Farmers’ Association and is a timber and subtropical fruit farmer in Tzaneen, Limpopo (South Africa).
Main points from the presentation:
- COVID is here to stay and it has changed the way farmers approach the media. Farmers have digitalized, and, more than anyone else, because they live in rural areas, connectivity is still a problem. But farmers are getting their news digitally.
- The world has become a very small place for farmers. They can easily get news from all over the world and they are now competing against farmers from all over the world all the time
- Farmers learn more from other farmers than from anyone else. How are they coping/adapting to change? What are they doing to ensure the profitability/sustainability of their businesses? Agricultural journalists and communicators are important in helping farmers stay informed about what their peers are thinking and doing.
- Farmers are interested in much more than just the latest developments/news. They want to know the “so what” of the news too. What are the implications of an event or change to their farms and operations. Agricultural journalists are also translators, translating global news into farmers language because they have a gut feeling how this will affect farmers. This is knowledge that cannot be taught in school but comes from experience.
At the end of his presentation, Theo de Jager responds to questions from participating IFAJ journalists and communicators on how COVID-19 affected farmers globally, and what do farmers want to know from agricultural journalists? The questions are followed by a discussion moderated by Jane Craigie, IFAJ executive committee member from the UK.
Connecting Across Borders
Video recording of the webinar session presented on 24 June 2020
This session dives into the process of investigative journalism, examining aspects of research, inquiry as well as the publication of stories that involve cooperation across borders.
Speaker: John Hansen
John Hansen is a Danish journalist who writes for the national newspaper Politiken, as well as being the chairperson of the Danish Association for Investigative Journalism. He has personally worked on internationally created and researched articles pertaining to Wikileaks, Luxleaks and the Panama Papers.
Main points from the presentation
- Hansen’s discussion of his hands-on experience working with journalists across borders, the specific projects he has taken part in, and the details of such projects
- How international cooperation has evolved over the past 10 years from the development of the internet as not only a useful means of meeting and swapping information with other journalists, but how it has come itself to create stories that move across different borders.
- The pros of international cooperation on both the investigative and publishing side: how combining resources can make for a better story, discussing the concept of ‘radical sharing’
- The cons of international cooperation on both the investigative and publishing side: the difficulties of making such international connections, and the dangers that come along with it
IFAJ Delegate Assembly
Video recording of the webinar session presented on 25 June 2020
This session is a recording of the IFAJ Delegate Assembly (or annual general meeting), held online for the first time. Agricultural journalists and communicators from around the world participate as delegates and observers. Aside from the usual proceedings of an annual meeting, there are reports on how IFAJ is adapting to function in a post-COVID-19 situation, the approval of new members from Sierra Leone and Zambia, update on IFAJ’s Vision 2025 strategic plan, presentations on upcoming congresses in Denmark, Switzerland and Canada, presentations from candidates standing for election to the Presidium, and a tribute to outgoing president Owen Roberts.
A Toast to Denmark
Video recording of the webinar session presented on 26 June 2020
This session is a toast to the Danish guild of agri-food journalists who had to postpone the 2020 IFAJ Congress due to COVID-19. This webinar looks at all things ‘agriculture’ in Denmark in the spirit of the annual congress.
Speaker: Asger Christensen
Asger Christensen is a dairy farmer with 650 milk cows near Tarm, Denmark. He is also a Member of the European Parliament as part of the parliamentary group Renew Europe. He serves on the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
Main points from the presentation:
- Speaker Asger Christensen speaks on a variety of topics related to agriculture, from what agriculture in Denmark is like today, to what importing and exporting agricultural goods is presently like across Europe due to COVID-19, and the specific produce that has been hit hardest.
- The Danish guild also presents a video highlighting the agri-food sector in the country and inviting agricultural journalists and communicators to attend the IFAJ congress in 2021. A discussion takes place about specifics that are presented about next year’s panels and the state of agriculture in Denmark today.
- The session closes with the presentation of the 2020 winners of the IFAJ Star Prize Awards which recognizes the world’s best agricultural journalism – writing, broadcasting and photography.