MIAMI – With the election of Christopher Barnes as the new president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and a luncheon offered by EFE, Spain’s international news agency, to celebrate its 80th anniversary and to announce the relaunching of its international service, the 75th General Assembly of the IAPA came to a close in Miami on Monday.
EFE president Fernando Garea presented the documentary “La Agencia,” which was produced for the 80th anniversary of the Spanish news service, an event that began to be celebrated over the past few days in Miami at the IAPA conference.
The documentary, Garea said, reflects the company’s slogan for the celebration of its 80 years of operations – “EFE is always there” – by showing a portion of the work its 2,000 journalists perform every day in 120 countries around the world.
EFE’s global reach, which it will continue to have in the future, was evident in the one-hour documentary that is the linchpin of the anniversary project sponsored by Iberia Airlines and by Renfe, Spain’s state-run railway network.
Garea said that he is leaving Miami after the IAPA meeting with new “knowledge and ideas” after several “magnificent days” during which he shared discussions and exchanged observations with colleagues from around the Americas.
The EFE president said he was confident that the firm can continue cooperating with the media editors comprising the IAPA and that that will translate into a “very productive future” for all parties.
Garea also invited all the IAPA members to travel to Madrid a year from now to participate in the next IAPA General Assembly, which will begin on Oct. 29, 2020, in the Spanish capital.
Immediately thereafter, the new IAPA president was appointed, with the organization’s heretofore first vice president, Barnes, replacing Maria Elvira Dominguez, with Colombia’s El Pais daily.
Barnes, the chief operating officer of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group and managing director of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, said that he will work to ensure continuity in the work of his predecessors in defending freedom of expression and the press.
Regrettably, he added, there are people in positions of power who are frequently “challenging” that freedom.
Barnes, who lamented the “impunity” surrounding the death of many journalists around the world, said: “There can be no strong, effective and sustainable democracy in the Americas without a strong and free press.”
“There’s much work to do,” the Jamaican concluded, thanking Dominguez for her intense efforts during her time at the IAPA helm.
The Colombian journalist, meanwhile, said that it’s not enough for the press to “disseminate” information but rather it must seek to strengthen the fundamental right to the freedom of information via organizations such as the IAPA.
She added that until this year the positive “impact” the organization has in the community had not been fully recognized, along with the institution’s strength in demonstrating its “conviction” to help journalists working at a “disadvantage,” such as in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, or those who “each day must dodge bullets,” as in Mexico.
Among the new members of the IAPA board of directors is EFE News CEO in New York Juan Varela, who actively participated in the Miami conclave.
EFE, the world’s fourth largest news agency, during the four-day annual IAPA conference at the Miami Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, presented its plans for the future, telling the assembled heads of large media outlets from the Americas that it intends to change the “narrative” and offer new multimedia products and content.
Garea had noted the need to focus on new “product and content,” saying that these will be provided exclusively in multimedia format by EFE starting in 2020.
EFE, founded in Burgos, Spain, on Jan. 3, 1939, during the Spanish Civil War as a local news agency, today is the Spanish multimedia media outlet with the largest number of correspondents and a worldwide presence with services in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Arabic, Galician and Catalan. Its journalists and staff prepare some 6,500 news items in a variety of formats each day.