There is a new benefit for journalist members of the Guild writing about EU agriculture – access to a new information website published by the European Commission. The site has been developed in consultation with IFAJ member organisations in Europe, including the British Guild.
“This useful website will be a one-stop shop for all press releases from the EU agriculture directorate-general, as well as country statistics and international data,” explains Joe Watson, the Guild’s IFAJ representative. “It will save journalists who write on EU matters having to go to a multitude of different sites for information.”
The AG-PRESS website has News and Events pages, Networking activity including tweets, and a Toolbox containing print and audio visual materials. Information on the Common Agricultural Policy and current reform developments are prominent but the site will have far more information on agricultural matters than just the CAP, Joe emphasises.
“Given its importance and the fact it accounts for 42% of total EC expenditure, it is understandable that there will be a lot of focus on the CAP,” he says. “But the site will convey matters on all agricultural news in Europe and provide plenty of other statistical information.
“In essence it will be a one-stop shop for all agricultural news issues currently available on various websites, making it easier for journalists to work,” adds Joe. “The Commission recognises the problems we have finding data and the need to trawl through various websites. It also recognises that the search facility on its own websites is not good, which is why this new one is being hosted outside europa.eu to allow more user-friendly searches.”
Ingrid Brownrigg of the external communication unit run by Guild member Roger Waite, the agriculture commissioner’s spokesman, adds that journalists will be encouraged to post their own stories on the site to make it is as informative as possible on every aspect of EU agriculture.
“Throughout this year in our various events where we have met, we spoke to you about the proposed on-line platform and welcomed your feedback and your input,” she adds. “We took your ideas and suggestions on board and produced the AG-PRESS website; journalists can now go there, subscribe to become a member and stay in touch with the Brussels agri world.”
Ingrid emphasises that further features will be added and improvements made beyond the initial phase.
“We are still working on some fine tuning with the web developer and you will see that some things will change,” she says. “We welcome comments and feedback because we are trying to make the life of agricultural journalists easier.”
Permission to use the site will be given to accredited agricultural journalists only. Each application will be individually approved by the commission and if necessary referred to the Guild for guidance; applicants that are neither journalists nor Guild members will be denied entry.
Joe Watson is enthusiastic about the value of the new site: “I hope our journalist Guild members who need information on EU agriculture for news and feature articles will register and make use of this new facility,” he says. “It’s a feather in our cap that the EC’s agriculture DG consulted our Guild and similar organisations in Europe. I’d be delighted to hear of any issues or suggestions for improvements so that I can feed them back to the commission.”