By Karlie Elliott Bowman
Positive developments arising from last year’s IFAJ congress in Argentina continue in Latin America, where colleagues are working to build bridges with potential member countries. For the past three months, IFAJ member Carlos Curci Gonzalez, along with Javier Snaidas, Cecilia Mosto and María Mosquera have been engaged in a research study examining the potential for growing the organization in Latin America.
The study, in its final stages, is bringing interesting findings to light regarding how to make inroads in the region. Among those recommendations is that IFAJ specifically work to build relationships in Colombia, Brazil and Chile.
Mosquera said, “These three countries, Colombia, Brazil and Chile are specifically recommended for building relationships with IFAJ because they are well connected. Well connected in terms of technology, professional networks and proximity, freedom of expression, and because of language. Starting here will hopefully help forge further relationships in Latin America.”
Study participants noted many reasons why they would be interested in forging relationships with IFAJ. Most importantly, they said the need to connect with agricultural journalists across the globe is increasingly important. For example, agriculture in Chile is similar to New Zealand (the site of next year’s IFAJ congress). The ability to reach out, connect and learn is a great opportunity for learning and information gathering, says study co-leader Mosquera.
Another important component for connecting with IFAJ is the continual need for professional development. Participants noted that further training is critical to ensure they continue advancing as professionals.
“Through this process we have certainly learned that there are many bridges that can be built,” says Mosquera. “We need to think, analyze and consider which bridges can work. IFAJ will need a common sense approach.”
Challenges to forging relationships and establishing formal guilds include language and culture barriers. The lack of established guilds in these countries is also a problem that requires IFAJ review its approach for forming guilds and membership.
However, IFAJ vice-president Owen Roberts, who worked with the Argentinians on survey design and project coordination, is confident new ways can be created to further connect with the Latin America agricultural journalists network. These include reaching out through the IFAJ-Agriterra Master Class program that usually involves several Latin America participants.
“For IFAJ, Argentina is the gateway to Latin America,” says Roberts. “Our Argentinian colleagues’ ability to present the first-ever congress in South America, draw a significant number of Latin American journalists and now look deeper yet into expanding IFAJ membership in at least three new and important countries shows their understanding and commitment.”
Complete study results and recommendations will be presented at the 2014 IFAJ Congress in Scotland.