Click here to download the CJA Newsletter – January 2016.
THE YEARS have flashed by since we held our last conference in Malta 2012. After considering South Africa and India as possible options it was decided that it would be most practical to stage our next meeting in London 2016 on April 11, 12 and 13.
Organising a conference with the limited resources, the CJA is difficult at the best of times. Planning our next conference has been more challenging than ever – basically because we no longer have any support from the Commonwealth Foundation which provided a financial cushion for CJA conferences in the past.
On the positive side, we have cleared one big hurdle – finding a venue. As a result of a chance meeting with Professor Marie Gillespie from the Open University we have been offered free access to the university premises in London for all three days of our conference. In return, Professor Gillespie will play a role in drawing up our conference programme, so that her students can benefit from the partnership.
Accommodation has been reserved for approximately 30 people at the Goodenough Club which is located a short distance from the Open University building in central London. Professor Gillespie has negotiated a discounted rate which is offered to University clients. Since April is a peak season for tourists we were advised to book early.
Google has offered to contribute towards the cost of the conference. Although this is helpful this will only meet admin costs and not stretch to covering travel for overseas delegates.
I have approached the British Foreign Office, a few high commissions and other institutions seeking sponsorship but without success. The advice I have been given is that branches should approach international donors based in their countries. Diplomatic and other missions in individual countries have their own budgets for financing deserving cases and since our conference is aimed to highlight media freedom applications from local branches our likely to be viewed favourably. I will resend a draft letter to submit to local sponsors, I can approach them directly if required.
The theme of the conference is: The Future of Journalism in a Digital Age. We need to get a rough idea soon of how many delegates plan to come from overseas branches. Based on turnouts at previous CJA conferences we can expect between 60 to 100 delegates including local and regional representatives.
Although the conference is taking place in London, it is important that all branches should contribute to shaping the programme. Chris Cobb has volunteered to oversee the programme with input and support from Mahendra, Jayanta and other Exco members. Please send your suggestions for topics and speakers to Chris, me, Jayanta Chowdhury, Mahendra Ved, Farid Hasan, Adnan Jafri, Joshua Kyalimpa, Alice Wee, Cheryl Dorall and Debbie Ransome. Cheryl, Nahas, Belal and Jayanta, with support from others, will be working on our brochure. Please provide information they require as soon as you can to avoid a last-minute rush.
As I said at the beginning, time goes by fast which means we need to move quickly on all aspects of our planning. Please try to find donors who might be willing to contribute towards overall costs and travel for delegates. We will be approaching sponsors and speakers in the UK. As we start the new year, the safety of journalists and the need to protect media freedom is more important than ever. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists the total number of deaths of journalists is up from 61 in 2014, and the 2015 number has shot up from 55 in the past three weeks as the group has worked to ascertain the circumstances in which journalists were killed. The organisation said it is investigating at least 24 further deaths to see if they were related to journalistic activity.
We need to highlight this to donors and supporters when we meet at our conference in April this year. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Exco members who have spent time and effort to support the CJA and its programmes. Thank you again for your support.
Best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and successful 2016.
Commonwealth Journalists Association