AJA lauds WJC 2020 for opportunities to discuss global issues 

WJC 2020 debates covered fake news, future of journalism, global responses to COVID-19, way forward for peace on Korean Peninsula

Some of the AJA members holding their ninth Zoom meeting (Picture by Ashraf)

Some of the AJA members holding their ninth Zoom meeting (Picture by Ashraf Dali)

By Habib Toumi
SEOUL:
Asian Journalists Association (AJA) members have heaped praise on the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) for the success of the World Journalists Conference 2020 (WJC 2020) despite the heavy travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The three-day conference was held in the Korean capital Seoul and was attended by several Korean journalists and media and health experts, but dozens of international journalists participated from their homes on the five continents.

Their speeches, presentations and comments were beamed live for three hours every day and covered the three topics selected for this year’s conference.

On day one, panelists and speakers covered fake news and the future of journalists while on day two, they addressed global responses to COVID-19 and disease control methods and on day three, they focused on the peace policy on the Korean Peninsula, a topic that coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.

The war that has sliced the peninsula in two in 1953 has left Korea as one of the world’s last divided countries.

The opening ceremony included a taped speech by South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun who expressed special support to journalists during the trying times of COVID-19 and shared his hope that the international gathering will serve as a venue of wisdom to reaffirm the importance of journalism.

JAK President Dong Hoon Kim addressing teh conference (Sang-ki Lee)

JAK President Dong Hoon Kim addressing teh conference (Sang-ki Lee)

JAK President Dong Hoon Kim, in his remarks, said that journalists may have different genders, skin colors, and ideologies, but still share some commonalities.

“We, journalists, all work hard to make the truth known with a warm heart and a cool mind, ultimately for peace and freedom,” he said.

Following their speeches or presentations, participants answered queries and provided further details in the Question and Answer session, before the floor was opened to everyone for contributions to debates and comments.

WJC 2020 participants at the closing of their conference

WJC 2020 participants at the closing of their conference

In their bi-monthly meeting on September 19, AJA members expressed thanks to the WJC 2020 organizers for the opportunity to share their ideas, perspectives and suggestions in the international conference. They also lauded the smooth organization that succeeded in bringing journalists seamlessly together although they were thousands of kilometers away from one another.

Suggestions by the AJA members included allocating more time for the speeches by extending it by two minutes.

The AJA members who had up to the conference held eight meetings on Zoom said they did not face any technical difficulties logging in, making their slide presentation or interacting with other journalists or organizers. For Cambodian AJA member Sophal Chhay, the experience was so smooth that he participated in the conference from the soothing comfort of his garden.

Peter Song had an active role as liaison officer with the AJA members throughout the conference

Peter Song on the conference premises in Seoul had an active role as liaison officer with the AJA members throughout WJC 2020

In the meeting, the journalists also thanked the AJA Korean team, led by AJA founder and first president Sang-ki Lee, and comprising Seok-Jae Kang, a veteran journalist with a vice president seat within AJA, and Peter Song, attending his first conference, for their support before, during and after the conference.

Looking ahead, AJA is planning to hold its forum in November. The gathering will be in-person if the Korean government eases the COVID-19 related travel and stay restrictions into the country. However, if the situation does not change, the same format as the WJC 2020 will be applied with those in Korea attending in person while the international members will participate virtually.

The AJA meetings on October 10 and 17 will discuss the preparations for the forum.

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