Introduction

The Commonwealth Journalists Association is a voluntary professional association for working journalists throughout the Commonwealth, comprised of 53 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, North and South America, and the Pacific.

In many countries the media lacks resources, comes under pressure from government and commercial interests, or suffers threats or violence from criminals and extremists. Access to high quality training may be difficult and there may be no machinery for journalists to get together and discuss their common problems, the changes to their profession, and new threats from security efforts and manipulation.

The CJA exists to remedy this situation, to bring journalists closer together whether they are working in print, broadcasting, or online journalism, and to help raise their status and quality. The CJA has branches in some Commonwealth countries and members in all.

The CJA co-operates closely with other media bodies such as the Commonwealth Press Union and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association in defending the independence and safety of journalists where these are seen to be in danger. The CJA is also one of the bodies which founded the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

Structure

The CJA is headed by a President and four Vice-Presidents with an Executive Committee (ExCo) of journalists elected by the conference and drawn from the different regions of the Commonwealth. Day to day work is carried out by a part-time Executive Director, under the direction of the President and ExCo.

The current President is Rita Payne, former Asia Editor of the BBC World Service. Our administrative office is in Toronto, Canada.

Activities

Since 1983 the CJA has organised training courses for journalists in many Commonwealth countries and in many fields, such as basic reporting, environmental journalism, election reporting, and financial analysis. Training programmes are funded mainly by the Commonwealth Media Development Fund, which was set up by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1981.

Currently the CJA is working with the Commonwealth Foundation on courses and seminars which underline the importance of fair and accurate journalism to the operation of good governance and civil society.

Conference

Every three years or so the CJA holds a major conference of members: Cyprus (1983), India (1987), Barbados (1990), Namibia (1994), Hong Kong (1997), Nigeria (2001) and Bangladesh (2003), Kuching (2008), and Malta (2011).

Written by Pieter Wessels & Chris Cobb. Edited by Will Henley.