CJA in the Centre of Canada

The CJA was set up in Winnipeg early in 2011. Its original purpose was aimed at providing service and seeking worldwide professional collegiality. This thinking expanded quickly to address:

—                    Examination of essential journalism principles in the Commonwealth, in circumstances where it is needed and asked for;

—                    Providing advocacy for media professionals under abuse; and,

—                     Learning more about the profession in as many of the 54 nations of the Commonwealth as possible.

Half a dozen like minds launched the chapter. This strength has grown to 20-plus as the chapter approaches its first anniversary. Its diversity and interests have grown, too.

From an original assembly of print people, writers and editors, it has won support from journalists working in television, film production, media-teaching  and radio.

Originally a Winnipeg city organization, it has now intends to find members in the business in cities beyond the capital, notably Brandon and Portage La Prairie — and the chapter name has been adjusted to CJA Manitoba, to encourage a membership throughout the province.

A great stimulus in interest and spur to membership was afforded late last year by being able to quickly provide successful candidates when the Commonwealth Secretariat sought delegates in November and December to serve as election observers in Cameroon and Guyana, just weeks apart. They served pro bono.  And reports back indicated they did well.

At home in Winnipeg, those CJA reps gave a wider-than journalistic audience, a powerful new understanding of the developing Commonwealth, replacing the oft-expressed public apathy with new vigor an interest. Needless to say, there is a clamor for such jobs when they next occur.

On the eve of the first completed year, the chapter eagerly seeks links to other chapters with offers to coach and mentor in aspects of the profession they feel needs a fresh eye and open Skype conversation with small groups — especially those in embattled parts of the Commonwealth.

A group of members is also working up a 5-day series of formal structured lectures on the topic: The Effective Use of Social Media for Covering an Election.

Officers of the chapter are:

Catherine Mitchell, president; Julie Carl, vice-president; David O’Brien, secretary; Andrew Blicq, treasurer.

E-mail communication should go to catherine.mitchell@freepress.mb,ca.