New leader spells out what we offer international journalism

The new CJA President, Chris Cobb of the Canadian branch, pictured, has said he was honoured to be leading the association. He was elected by branches after the online conference in Delhi in March.

“The leadership of the CJA is a team, and its members bring diverse experiences and knowledge to the table. We will listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions and reach decisions that above all else are in the interests of journalists throughout the Commonwealth and beyond,” he said.

He noted that in some of the Commonwealth’s 54 countries these were dark days for journalists – exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, which has added to the physical, emotional and financial ill-treatment being experienced by many reporters and editors.

Mr Cobb and his new team committed to collaboration with like-minded organisations to add the CJA’s voice to those protesting over the systemic abuse of journalists.

“Our priorities over the next few years will also include building the CJA – especially on the African continent,” he said. “And we need to attract more young journalists into the association. I would also like to see us use new communications technologies for innovative training programs, and to join hands across the globe in the spirit of mutual support and in a concerted effort to make the lives of journalists safer and more fulfilling,” he said.

“I have first-hand experience of the value that the CJA can bring to the international journalism community.

Use the technology

“Obviously, we all hope for the time when we can meet face to face because while modern technology does do the job, there is no real substitute for physically meeting, shaking hands and communing as we have traditionally done.

“We are living in a technologically-advanced world that the writers of the original CJA constitution could not possibly have foreseen. But it is a world wholly embraced by the younger cohorts we need to be attracting to the CJA. For example, I have an idea to develop a CJA ‘ZoomPal’ system based on the pen pal tradition where young people were encouraged to develop relationships with others in foreign lands. Back in the day, pen pals wrote letters to each other and I personally know of some who developed lifelong friendships.

“‘ZoomPals’ in the context I am contemplating are students or journalists early in their careers paired with others – Canada to India, Ghana to Sarawak, UK to Nigeria etc. etc. They can share experiences and learn from each other and perhaps develop relationships that can last lifetimes. I have a deep belief in the lasting power and influence of human connection. This is just one of the ways we can make technology work for us.”