34th Executive Board Meeting Minutes

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OANA Executive Board Meeting
November 29, 2012, Tokyo
Minutes of the EBM Meeting

SESSION 1: ESTABLISHING THE QUORUM

Present Agencies at the Executive Board Meeting:
AA
IRNA
BERNAMA
ANTARA
ITAR-TASS
AZERTAC
PTI
AAP
YONHAP
XINHUA
MONTSAME

Observer: KYODO News Agency

Welcome address by Kemal Öztürk - OANA President

In thanking host Kyodo, the OANA president told the executive delegation that the 34th meeting Tokyo was an excellent and welcome achievement given the country’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Mr. Ozturk said OANA had grown to become the largest regional news agency alliance in the world with 44 national agencies within it.

“They share stories, images and video and they exchange their knowledge as they deepen their cooperation,” he said.

And this is more important now than ever before as social media is taking news and information exchange to a whole new level.

“If Facebook were a country it would have the third largest population in the world,” the president observed.

“But social and digital media will not endanger the future of new agencies,” he said.

“It becomes an important tool for their development in news and therefore it is important for OANA to also embrace it.”

The president said that in this new digital age it was important that we guide our editors in news coverage so it doesn’t shock them; distress them or incite hostility and discrimination.

He reminded the meeting delegates of the declaration made at last year’s OANA 50th anniversary celebrations.

“We promised to fulfill the public’s right to accurate and reliable information. We also declared our will to uphold OANA’s media ethical guidelines, Mr. Ozturk said.

“With these sentiments I am proud to submit the OANA Ethical Guidelines Declaration for your approval – one of the most important milestones of our organization.”
(NB: Delegates received a copy of the OANA 50th Anniversary Ethical Guidelines Declaration)

Address: KYODO Director General – Mr Satoshi Ishikawa

Inspired by the Anadolu’s work for OANA, Kyodo’s Director-General Mr Satoshi Ishikawa has vowed his agency would contribute even more to the Asian news alliance and announced its candidacy for the board.

“As Turkey has historically been a bridge between the East and the West, Mr. Öztürk's superb skills as head of the presiding agency are also serving as a bridge for cooperation and exchanges among the OANA members,” Mr. Ishikawa said.

“Kyodo News also intends to boost its cooperation with OANA and become more actively involved in its activities.”

The Kyodo Director-General said that his agency was driven to provide fast and accurate news and information about disasters in the wake of the ones that hit Japan in March 2011.

“Members of OANA also used Kyodo's photos, videos and foreign language services, so we pride ourselves on fulfilling our duty as Japan's leading news agency,” he said.

“We continue to strengthen our foreign language services by expanding our operations in Asia, the dynamic center of the global economy.”

Mr Ishikawa said his agency sought to expand its multimedia content services by enhancing cooperation with each OANA member in the exchange of photos and videos and in marketing.

He also saw an important role for social media in an ever-changing digital landscape.

Social media is emerging as a means of communication with great potential for receiving and delivering real-time personal information,” Mr. Ishikawa said.

“This was so evident during last year’s disaster as so many Japanese used Twitter and other social network services to locate their family members and friends after last year's devastating earthquake.”

But the Kyodo Director-General warned that growth of such communication posed a challenge to the Japanese newspaper industry.

“The combined newspaper circulation in Japan has been decreasing by roughly one million annually over the last three years and went down to 48.34 million in 2011.

“The downward trend in newspaper sales appears to be here to stay. Newspaper advertising revenue has halved over the last decade,” he said.

Mr Ishikawa said the shift to digital news and advertising consumption has accelerated amid the rapid spread of smartphones and tablet computers.

“People can fully exchange information whenever they like, wherever they are, and with whomever they wish to contact.

“Rapid advances in Internet technology have brought about bewildering changes and challenges for many countries' media organizations.

“So it has become all the more important to exchange ideas and information among the leaders of the leading news agencies of Asia and Eurasia,” the Director-General said.

He said that amid all the challenges facing news agencies, Kyodo News intended to contribute further to OANA.

OANA Secretary General Report – Mr. Ercan Göçer (Anadolu Agency Head of International Relations Department)

Dear Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this brief report, I would like to recall decisions taken in the previous meeting to provide a short analysis of the fulfillment of these decisions by OANA member agencies.34TH OANA EBM Meeting is an important milestone in the life of OANA organization. I extend my gratitude to our Japanese colleagues who worked very hard to enable us to mark this significant moment here in Tokyo. I am also grateful to our colleagues representing OANA member agencies who travelled here from near and far points of Asia-Pacific.

The main objectives of the Organization were defined as “to increase and facilitate a freer flow of news and information in Asia and the Pacific and to encourage the removal of discriminatory actions and unnecessary restrictions by governments affecting news agencies engaged in news transmission or distribution so as to promote the availability of news information to people of the world.”

It is hardly necessary to repeat that OANA has always functioned as a common platform for this vast area of the world where diverse political systems, colors, races, cultures and religions co-exist.

OANA also strived, in line with its charter, “to commit itself to peace and understanding among nations and to oppose all forms of racism, colonialism and neo-colonialism”.

As humanity faces problems, natural disasters, wars and conflicts, OANA has to act more responsibly.

OANA members have had to address the issues of news and images that act against the public interest and have therefore submitted a declaration of ethical guidelines for news reporting.

As OANA Member news agencies we still have a lot of influence and guiding power on the media in general.

On this important day in OANA’s history, we would like to send out a message to the world media by adopting Editorial Guidelines that underline the media ethics.

OANA Secretariat congratulates to all member agencies on participation of the 34th OANA EBM Meeting and thanks you all for enabling OANA to remain a vibrant and successful hub of information flow.

Anadolu Agency took over the secretariat duties of OANA from ANTARA in November 2010. It took several months to complete the handover of the Secretariat, accounts and the news pool by October 2011.

OANA remained to be relevant, attracting interest from news agencies and other media organizations. The new site includes video, images and stories for exchange.

In October 2011 we launched the new oananews.org website. With the new site, based on open source Content Management System DRUPAL (v7), member agencies became able to upload their own content. In the new site, besides text and photo content, a mechanism for video publishing became available.

By the launch of the new oananews.org website, server infrastructure was also improved. The new oananews.org is running on two servers, one for apache-php services, and the other for MySQL database service. On the second server there is also a memcached service for caching pages for anonymous readers.

In the new site all content items are listed and browsable under categories, tags and owner agencies. There is also an archive tool by which logged in users can browse the news items according to date. In the new site, agencies have the option to make their stories public or private

When a story is private only a short intro and a small picture is shown to anonymous readers.
Only member agencies are able to read whole private stories when they are logged in. And 99 percent of the stories are private. Not all member agencies are currently uploading content to the site.
There are 10 agencies that use the site most. Those are: MNA, WAM, BERNAMA, IRNA, TNA, TREND, AZERTAC, QNA, PTI, MONTSAME and AA.
Not all agencies are using the photo and video uploading features of the site.
Agencies that use the photo feature are those: MNA, AZERTAC, TREND, MONTSAME and PTI.
There are only 3 agencies that are using video uploading feature: MONTSAME, AZERTAC and AA.
Since the launch of the new site daily average of uploaded news items are around 200.
Since the feature became available, more than 400 video stories were uploaded.
To improve the publicity of the oananews.org we need more member agencies to upload their content regularly.
We need to decide if the content will be sold to third parties and determine a policy.
We need to improve the design of the site.
We need also to upgrade the server infrastructure of the site, especially for video streaming.
We need to develop mobile versions of the site.
Site should be optimized for search engines and social media sharing.
An OANA bank account has been established in Turkey. Funds totaling $US 43,605 were transferred from the previous Secretariat, Antara. Membership contributions as of mid-November 2012 have increased this balance to $91,519. Only expenditure is hardwares for web site technical infrastructures totaling $13,298.

There have been a number of member agencies who have not paid for several years and it recommended the Executive Board decide the appropriate course of action.

Saudi news agency and OANA member SPA will host the fourth News Agencies World Congress in 2013. OANA president Kemal Öztürk and the Secretary General are asked to make a speech in the Congress therefore maintained the preparatory negotiations with organizing council, as OANA is on the organizing council for the Congress.

OTHER POINTS

AAP seeks clarity on OANA dates in 2013:
ITAR-TASS advises that in September the General Assembly will be held in Moscow.
ANTARA asks that if we are making an editorial and ethical declaration at the General Assembly.

OANA President: This will be discussed during the afternoon sessions.

Minutes of the 33rd EBM were unanimously approved.

GENERAL DISCUSSIONS SESSION - MORNING:

AAP raises the issue that the website needs to be improved to include social media. Proposes that OANA allows some expenses to improve the website.
RESPONSE: If we are to make an investment in the website it should occur during the ITAR-TASS presidency. During the transfer the improvements could be made as ITAR-TASS determines what is required. AAP suggests further: Should the website be hosted in the cloud to make the management transfer easier in the future. AAP can discuss with ITAR-TASS.
IRNA: Implores OANA not to wait for development and improvement. Explore it now and present a report to Moscow General Assembly.
OANA SEC GEN: Send it ideas and these will be discussed.
YONHAP: Suggests meeting of technical experts to examine proposals regarding website.
ITAR-TASS: We run a special meeting in Istanbul (suggest April) to go through the ideas. AAP: Working Group could be formed. Seven agencies - Yonhap, AAP, Tass, Antara, AA, IRNA and Kyodo.

IRNA presents position paper which suggests that OANA alliance be used to strengthen cooperation through the exchange of software development knowledge, training expertise and strategies. IRNA launches audio and video services with info graphics on the agenda. IRNA seeks candidacy for OANA presidency from 2016 to 2019 (after ITAR-TASS’ term). IRNA had the presidency between 1997 and 2000.
RESPONSE: Candidacy will be determined in Moscow in 2013. May 2013 Deadline for all agencies wishing to run.

YONHAP: Seeking further clarity on the General Assembly dates. ITAR-TASS will send confirmation and invitation in the New Year.

GENERAL DISCUSSIONS SESSION - AFTERNOON:

TOPIC 1: UNPAID MEMBERSHIPS
The delegation was referred to the OANA membership report which shows that there are several agencies which have not paid. We need to take action. Suggestions about the situation will be welcomed.
Opinions around the table:
YONHAP – Suggests we impose one more deadline then make a decision
PTI – Some of the agencies has not paid at all. Why continue with them? Others who have previously paid but have stopped should be given some time to rectify the situation. Also asks why/how lack of payments are allowed to continue.
ITAR-TASS – Determine a regulation then we act on that
ANTARA – Outlines the existing charter within OANA.
IRNA – Outlines the outcomes from the General Assembly in Turkey, 2010.
BERNAMA – Suggests that OANA must make contact
AA – has communicated with the agencies but there has been no response.
AA – Application from the Sri Lankan agency needs to be considered. They are a past member agency but have not paid for five years. They are now will rejoin and willing to pay. How much should that be and under what circumstances should they be allowed back in?
IRNA – write to non-paying members and give them a deadline to the General Assembly. If they don’t then revoke or suspend membership. As for Sri Lanka tell them how much they should pay and if they don’t by the General Assembly then revoke or suspend membership.
AAP – some 17 agencies have not paid for five years. We must take this seriously. We need to decide what the back pay should be.

RESOLUTION: To write to the non-paying agencies and impose a deadline to pay by the General Assembly at which time a decision will be made as to how to proceed. In order to activate their membership, agencies shall /can pay the membership fee total from the year they joined the organization.

TOPIC 2: HOW TO MAKE A BETTER OANA

WEBSITE: There is a general feeling that the website must be improved with more consistent content contributions from all agencies.
BERNAMA– It is a platform of news but only some active, some not. We may try to get more participation.
AAP – It is important to have relevant and timely news. We should encourage more cultural, lifestyle features and some analysis pieces that best reflect the countries from which they originate. This would ensure the content more appealing to all agencies.
AZERTAC - Disseminate multimedia content through the website; increase video posts.
YONHAP- Each agency makes concrete proposals for the website. We put together a list for consideration by the technical group to meet in Istanbul. suggest
Technology, content, financing
PTI - Generate ideas for advertising on the website. Engage

RESOLUTION: Agencies to provide ideas to AA for presentation to the technical group meeting in Istanbul.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING: There would be great benefit to all if agencies were able to better share their successes and initiatives.
YONHAP – set up a technology group where member agencies share their expertise. They ask that Kyodo join the technology group that will meet in Istanbul in April. Kyodo agrees.
AZERTAC - More cooperation within agencies through exchanges with all member agencies; Share news of companies news blogs and IT innovations on OANA website
AAP – Showcase the top ideas from all member news agencies, pull together a presentation for the delegation in place of country reports during the General Assembly.
ITAR TASS – Bring in key speakers for the General Assembly meeting in Moscow. Half day session for the Assembly then the remain one-and-a-half days is a workshop. Focus on mew Media.
PTI - How do we compete against the likes of TV for live reporting.
AAP – live news reporting. This should a topic of discussion during the General Assembly workshop.
YONHAP – suggest two streams of for the General Assembly – conference then the workshops
RESOLUTION: All agencies to send their ideas for the General Assembly/workshop to AA.

TRAINING: There is a perceived need to improve the skills of editorial people within the OANA group of agencies.
AAP - offers to put together a training workshop to be run in central locations in Asia. If OANA members are able to host a workshop or two workshops in central locations in Asia, AAP would be willing to contribute to the course material and provide tutoring resource
Response:
ANTARA - supports training initiative. Suggests $1000 contribution by agencies that attend
AA - Suggests online training. Suggest we discuss at the technical group next year.

TOPIC 3: EDITORIAL GUIDELINES DECLARATION
Agencies were asked to comment on a declaration circulated during the meeting.

AAP - to add a point that promotes balance and accuracy with a story. AAP will compile one for consideration.
AA – Because that agency journalists are inadequately prepared to do their jobs in potentially dangerous situations. Agencies have an obligation to train and support their staff. Could we expand on Point 1.
AAP- AAP to address the ethics issue. Two components ethics of – The obligations of the journalists and the obligations of the agencies. AAP will draft a declaration for consideration.

RESOLUTION: After AAP’s contributions on articles, the Ethical Guidelines of OANA will be voted in General Assembly to be selected and published as the Ethical Guidelines of OANA.

Topic 4: Other Matters
BERNAMA - Inquires about involvement with Factiva to sell content. Should we reinstate? This would be a way of bring in more revenue from the website.
RESOLUTION: AA to make contact with Factiva to see if a business relationship can be reformed.

ITAR-TASS – What about the flag issue? What are we going to do about it?
AA- The flag design samples will be collected and will be voted in the General Assembly next year.

Executive Board Meeting closes at 4pm.
IRNA thanks Kyodo and Anadolu Agency on behalf of the delegation.

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