By Micke Godtfredsen
Chairperson, IFAJ Press Freedom Committee
I am more and more concerned about the possibilities for our agricultural colleagues in Iran to be able to do their job independently from pressure and restrictions by the authorities in the country.
It is well known around the world that state control of news and information in Iran is severe, which makes the possibility for journalists to do their job independently quite difficult, and it takes a lot of their resources at the same time. Many media increasingly lack the resources to report freely and independently.
At this time, there are about 500 journalists, writers, photographers, analysts and translators in Iran focusing on agriculture as part of their job. It has come to my attention that some among these colleagues of ours, and certain agricultural media as well, are working under pressure and that they are targeted by restrictions from the government.
International society should be reminded of the importance, for journalists working in the sphere of agriculture, to be able to do their job independently. That is the best and, in the long run, the only way to promote a sustainable and healthy food production for the world’s growing population. And it is especially important at this time when the political situation in the Middle East is unstable.
But, of course, Iran is not the only country where agricultural journalists face a difficult time. In Guinea, unfortunately, our colleagues also continue to have press freedom restricted. One of the members of AMEDAR, the Guinean guild, was arrested in broad daylight while filming police action in the streets. The journalist was locked up and it was only after many negotiations with press associations that he was released. Such events are not uncommon for journalists working in Guinea at the moment.
If the journalists cannot work independently and do their stories free from control of authorities, the progress in agricultural development will stagnate, and there will be a risk of increasing food insecurity, leading to poverty, on our planet.