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IFAJ leaps forward with 2015 plan

The IFAJ Executive Committee met in Berlin during Green Week 2009 to continue building its 2015 strategic plan, which includes investing in an administrative professional and new website.Most of the three days of work focused on planning for future member countries’ and ensuring current member needs are being met.

“These new demands require new solutions in a voluntary, global organization,” says Mike Wilson, IFAJ president. “But we continue to work diligently to meet these demands, and to provide ongoing professional development to ensure we’re of value to each and every member of the organization.”

One ongoing initiative in the 2015 strategic plan is the new IFAJ website ( Over the past six months, a new site was launched not only with a new look but with information that allows IFAJ members to stay in touch with one another through news releases, organization information and coming events. The new site will eventually enable freelance IFAJ writers and photographers to market their services directly to other IFAJ members. In addition, a new IFAJ group has been established on Facebook, the social networking website.

“The website will slowly grow to become the main vehicle we use to service and communicate to our members,” notes Wilson. “With the modernized website and a new webmaster in place, we are able to communicate to members quickly and easily on an ongoing basis.”

The meeting in Berlin was highlighted by a professional development workshop focusing on freedom of the press. Speakers included David Dadge, Director, International Press Institute; Elke Schäfter, CEO, Reporters Without Borders in Berlin; Karla Sponar and Iurii Mykhailov, Ukrainian agricultural journalist. Freedom of the press continues to be a topic of great interest to the IFAJ.

Based on decisions made in Berlin, the IFAJ will also develop an information package that potential new member countries can request. The kit will contain a copy of the IFAJ DVD as well as the new brochure and other information that will inform potential new members what the IFAJ is all about, and how it can best serve them.

“All of these initiatives – the website, an information package, and having an executive secretary in place – are all meant to help the IFAJ better communicate not only within the organization, but to anyone who wants to learn more about us,” says Wilson. “We know we have a great organization that can provide innumerous benefits to our membership. Therefore, we are striving to ensure those benefits are communicated not only within the organization, but to those who are interested in joining our organization.

“These initiatives – and others we continue working on – speak directly to our organization’s mission statement,” he adds. “That is, to offer a platform for professional development and international networking for agricultural journalists and communicators.”

                                                                                                  By: Janet Kanters

Janet Kanters, past president of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation, is the Canadian guild representative on the IFAJ Executive Committee and serves as chair of the Communications Committee.