Two agricultural journalists – including one from the UK – have been announced as Caterpillar Development Scholars in the second year of a joint programme between the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) and machinery manufacturer Caterpillar.
Awarded for special communications projects, the program provides an opportunity for agricultural journalists to push their boundaries, seek international perspective, and contribute to IFAJ’s goals of global development, youth development, professional development and freedom of the press.
British freelancer Jez Fredenburgh will examine the changing nature and severity of wildfires around the globe, amid emerging insights into their complex causes and solutions.
Jodie Gunders, executive producer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s daily Queensland Country Hour, will travel to the United Kingdom to spend a week with the BBC’s Rural Affairs Unit to compare challenges and opportunities for specialist rural journalists in public broadcasting.
Jodie was able to complete her UK visit before the Covid-19 travel ban, while Jez – who was in Portugal when the crisis escalated – has had to suspend her project temporarily.
Jez said: “I’m really excited to win this award. It will allow me to pursue an important story to greater depth than time or financial constraints often allow. This feels critical, given the pressures and threats that good quality journalism faces at a time when understanding about food, farming and the environment is needed perhaps more than ever.
“As a freelancer, this award is particularly valuable. In the course of completing the story I’ll pick up new technical training and expand my digital skills and offering.
“Although this is my first IFAJ award, I’ve benefited hugely from BGAJ awards over the years. Particularly important for me was the Perkins travel scholarship, which in 2017 paid for me to investigate changing food demands in China. I’m sure it was a stepping stone towards the stories I now do globally.
“I would really encourage journalists to enter these awards – and sponsors to work with IFAJ and BGAJ in supporting them. They are really valuable and stories about our food system almost always have important international dimensions.
In addition to the reports they produce for their audiences at home, the pair will share their findings with their guilds, IFAJ and Caterpillar.
“These projects were chosen from a dozen proposals that demonstrated the breadth and creativity of agricultural journalism around the world,” said Steve Werblow, secretary-general of IFAJ.
“The insights that these two outstanding reporters will bring home to their audiences, their guilds and our federation will yield exciting new perspectives and allow the reporters to stretch their boundaries. We are grateful to Caterpillar for its generous grant that has funded this program and look forward to the results.”
“The partnership between Caterpillar and IFAJ has been truly exciting and a tremendous success,” added IFAJ treasurer Adrian Bell of Agro Mavens, who worked with Caterpillar to develop the bursary.
“Caterpillar is delighted that both the bursary and the earlier AgTech Reporting Award have captured the imagination of IFAJ members across more than 50 countries, supporting professional development and helping to raise the profile, standards and scope of agricultural journalism.”
For more information on the IFAJ/Caterpillar Development Bursary, visit https://www.ifaj.org/the-ifaj-scholars-program.