Minutes of 48th OANA Executive Board Meeting

The 48th OANA Executive Board meeting was held through e-mail communication among board members due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The OANA Secretariat circulated the draft agenda of the meeting to all board members and received their ideas and recommendations via e-mail.

AZERTAC, IRNA, TASS, and Xinhua (listed in alphabetical order) have forwarded suggestions and remarked on the proposed agendas.


[Approval of minutes of the 47th EBM which was held online in October, 2020]

The minutes were approved.

[Transfer of OANA presidency]
OANA Secretariat noted that it may be helpful to set some guidelines and mutually agreed upon timetables for the transfer so as to facilitate the smooth transition of authority and responsibility associated with the OANA presidency. In detail, OANA Secretariat proposed that the incoming president provide a general timetable for when it wants to assume the presidency at least six months before it wishes to take the helm, while the general timetable should include when it plans to hold the General Assembly and ways it wants to facilitate the transfer.

= IRNA confirmed that it will provide the Secretariat with a proposed timetable for the transition of the presidency, at least six months before holding the General Assembly. IRNA said they hope the pandemic situation will be resolved by next year so they can hold the GA in a normal way, but they will be prepared for other options like hosting an online event just in case.
= TASS also expressed support for this proposal.

[Greater use of online forms of communication to handle OANA gatherings]
The OANA Secretariat proposed discussions that can allow greater use of online platforms, including e-mail correspondences, and video conferences by OANA members going forward, pointing out that online platforms can be useful tools for holding executive board meetings (EBMs) without too much burden on the host while still allowing them to touch on agendas they want to discuss with other members.
= TASS said online forms of communication should not completely replace face-to-face meetings, stressing the need to return to conventional in-person gatherings once the pandemic situation comes under control globally. TASS mentioned the importance of informal communication that takes place between OANA members at event venues. Such interaction can strengthen partnerships between agencies, solve problems, and facilitate prompt discussions related to potential joint projects by member agencies.

[Protocol on determining a venue of the next executive board meeting]
The OANA Secretariat reminded board members that it was customary to include the venue of the next executive board meeting as an agenda in the current executive board meeting and thus proposed that this custom be reflected in the Statute. In other words, the Secretariat suggested the following sentence be added in Article 14 of the Statute; “A member agency should inform the President of its intention to host the next OANA Executive Board Meeting before the beginning of current Executive Board Meeting”
= SG did not receive objections from any OANA member agencies, while TASS and IRNA supported the proposal.

[Benefits to OANA members]
The OANA Secretariat proposed board members offer ideas on giving tangible benefits to OANA members that can actually be useful in the field of reporting.
= IRNA suggested that OANA establish a department or fund to support member agencies in various situations. IRNA said that the department can help member organizations when they need any technical, executive or logistical support or even receive advice.
= TASS said such proposals should be discussed in detail during face-to-face meetings
= In principle, the OANA Secretariat fully upholds IRNA’s proposed idea. However, we have to consider that OANA isn’t currently equipped with a permanent secretariat. Thus, the Secretariat proposes that this initiative should be discussed as a long-term agenda among member agencies.
In addition, IRNA praised OANA Secretariat’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the “international press photo exhibition”, which set a good example of on-time collective action by news agencies.

[Activities of the OANA Secretariat]

(1) Updates to OANA website
The existing OANA website (http://www.oananews.org/oana-news) has been updated with a new "OANA News" section added to the top menu bar that displays the latest coverage by member organizations. All OANA member agencies have been invited to share their news content by posting them on the official website.
The OANA Secretariat reminded all member agencies to send their stories with accompanying photos so they can appear as top news items on the website

(2) Sharing of COVID-19 coverage by member agencies
A total of 14 OANA member agencies provided 48 articles and photos covered by their journalist on the COVID-19 pandemic. The stories and photos were collected as the "Reporter's Story" in May and June and shared on OANA's website.
(3) Hosting the COVID-19 International Press Photo Exhibition
The OANA Secretariat, with the wholehearted support of member agencies, hosted a special photo exhibit that showcased the various aspects of the pandemic from its fallouts, to efforts to overcome the myriad of challenges faced by each country. A total of 47 news agencies provided 610 photos, with 120 displayed at an exhibition in Seoul that ran from Nov. 24, 2020, through March 1, 2021. Of these, 220 photos have been published in a photo book and distributed to the general public and contributors.
(4) OANA Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality
The OANA Secretariat received submissions for the OANA Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality (2019-2020) from June through September of 2020. A total of 10 news agencies submitted candidate programs for review by a jury of experts. The winner was announced in November in 2020. The award ceremony for the winner will be held during the upcoming General Assembly in Tehran next year

= TASS said it encourages all OANA members to send timely information to the Secretariat about all major changes in their respective agencies. Information that needs to be provided includes the appointment of new leadership and changes to the point of contact, as well as other pertinent developments affecting OANA members. Such details will allow the Secretariat to quickly update OANA's website and provide the most up-to-date data about the organization.

[Nominating Vice Presidents]
At the 47th OANA Executive Board Meeting, Xinhua proposed that the incumbent OANA President become the Vice President for the following term, while the remaining three vice president posts are chosen by a vote of member agencies. The OANA Secretariat concurs with Xinhua’s proposal of the incumbent president automatically filling one of the vice president slots, as this system will make it easier for the incoming president to maintain close mutual consultation with the outgoing President for a smooth transition of OANA’s leadership duties. Related to the selection of vice presidents, the OANA Secretariat believes there is a need to discuss the matter in more detail based on suggestions made in the past and new ideas forwarded ahead of the 48th EBM. For reference, TASS News Agency suggested a few years ago, that was approved by board members, an arrangement whereby the outgoing President automatically becomes one of the next-term vice presidents. Furthermore, former Secretary-General Mr. Vugar Seidov of AZERTAC made a detailed proposal at the 45th Executive Board Meeting in Seoul on selecting vice presidents. He proposed to add a new provision to the Statute, whereby the outgoing President becomes one of the vice presidents, with the other posts being filled by agencies that have most recently held the office of OANA president. Under this arrangement, the last four presidents of OANA will hold the vice president posts in chronological order after stepping down. Former OANA presidents therefore will hold the vice president post for the next 4 consecutive terms, as well as staying on as a member of the Executive Board. He suggested that this proposal should be left for discussion in the next EBMs. The Secretariat viewed this idea as also having merit because if this becomes part of the Statute, then there won’t be any need to elect vice presidents at future General Assemblies. The Secretariat, therefore, proposed that the next modification of the Statute, which will take place in Tehran in 2022, include Mr. Seidov’s proposal on the appointments of vice presidents. A possible revision to the Statute is listed below.

Article 10.a
▲ Present
The functions of the General Assembly shall be:
a. To elect at each regular session from among the members its President, 4 Vice - Presidents and eight members of the Executive Board who shall hold office until the next regular session
▲ Proposed Revision
The functions of the General Assembly shall be:
a. To elect at each regular session from among the members the President and eight members of the Executive Board who shall hold office until the next regular assembly session
As for vice presidents, the outgoing President should become vice president, along with three other vice presidents who have most recently been OANA presidents.

= TASS said it supports the option whereby the outgoing president automatically becomes one of the vice presidents for the next term and added that the other vice presidents be elected by a vote at the General Assembly

= Xinhua proposed that OANA should adopt the practice of the incumbent OANA President automatically becoming the Vice President for the following term, while three other vice presidents are chosen through votes

Considering proposals forwarded by both TASS and Xinhua, and reflecting current practices, the OANA Secretariat presented a newly-revised proposal for deliberation that is as follows;

(1) The incumbent president of OANA will automatically be tapped as vice president after stepping down after completing their term in office.
(2) The news organization that decides to host the next OANA General Assembly (i.e. after Iran's IRNA) should be given a vice president's post. This means that once IRNA becomes OANA president in 2022, the news organization that will become the next chair in 2025 should be given a vice president seat during 2022-2025. Allowing the incumbent and next presidents of OANA to assume the role of vice president will help with the smooth transition of authority, responsibility, and other administrative issues that need to be tackled.
(3) The selection of the two remaining vice president posts should be decided by a vote by all OANA members at the General Assembly. In this regard, the OANA Secretariat proposes that since candidates for vice presidents have traditionally been selected before the General Assembly, we suggest that potential news organizations be chosen based on the extent of contributions made in the past and present and a firm commitment to helping OANA grow in the future. Contributions and commitments may include recent and future hosting of the general assemblies and executive board meetings and other forms of meaningful support for OANA.

OANA Secretariat’s proposed revision of the existing Statute.

Article 10.a
▲ Present
The functions of the General Assembly shall be:
a. To elect at each regular session from among the members its President, 4 Vice - Presidents and eight members of the Executive Board who shall hold office until the next regular session
▲ Proposed Revision
The functions of the General Assembly shall be:
a. To elect at each regular session from among the members the President and eight members of the Executive Board who shall hold office until the next regular assembly session
As for vice presidents, the outgoing President and the member that decides to host the next General Assembly should become vice presidents, while the two remaining Vice Presidents should be elected by a vote by all members at the General Assembly

= TASS and Xinhua expressed reservations about the Secretariat’s new proposal, adding that the OANA should only adopt the practice of the incumbent President automatically becoming the Vice President for the following term. The two agencies maintained that the three other Vice President posts be selected by a vote by all members at the General Assembly.
= Accordingly, the OANA Secretariat confirms that the executive board accepts the proposal of the outgoing OANA President automatically becoming the Vice President, whereas the three other Vice Presidents will be elected by a vote by all members at the General Assembly.

[Issuing statement under OANA name]
As an organization representing news agencies of the Asia-Pacific region, OANA can speak out on important issues that affect journalists, freedom of the press, the media industry, and other matters that can impact reporters performing their duties. Thus, the Secretariat proposed a draft on procedures that need to be followed before issuing statements under the OANA name as set forth below.

“Any member agency can suggest a topic for an official statement with the Secretariat to determine whether the suggested topic merits attention. Then the Secretariat will draft a statement and distribute it to the Executive Board, which will accordingly have the final say in whether to publish the statement under the OANA name. Any statement issued under the OANA name needs to receive unanimous endorsement by all Executive Board members”

The Secretariat contacted two regional organizations of news agencies (EANA and FAAPA) about the protocol on issuing statements. The Secretariat was told by EANA and FAAPA that they also grant their executive boards full authorities on this matter.

Secretary General of European Alliance of News Agencies mentioned that EANA is governed by the Board, which, according to its Statute, can speak on behalf of the members, based on Article 2.3 in the Statute. Article 2.3 is as follows;
“EANA can speak and act on behalf of its members, through its President, Secretary General or duly appointed representatives in debates etc on issues of concern to its members”
Secretary General of Atlantic Federation of African Press Agencies (FAAPA) said as follows; FAAPA is an autonomous, apolitical and non-denominational and non-profit association. It has organizational and financial autonomy. Therefore, it has no bias and protocol for taking a position on national or international issues. However, it may from time to time issue press releases on certain issues of common interest to the members of the federation. In such cases, the statement must be approved in advance by the members of the FAAPA Executive Council.

= TASS said that due to the fact that the OANA is a non-political but professional media organization, all statements on behalf of the organization must be exclusively informational in nature and be issued in the form of an information message (press-release). IRNA also agreed with TASS that OANA’s statement must be non-political, but professional. Regarding the issuing procedure, TASS and IRNA accepted the SG’s proposal in general.

[Celebrating the 60th anniversary of OANA]
The Secretariat proposed that every member agency join in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the organization’s foundation on December 22, this year by presenting to the Secretariat a congratulatory message that can be posted on OANA’s website. The OANA secretariat also requested all messages be sent by Dec. 5 at the latest. On top of that, the Secretariat set forth its plan to issue a special digital booklet to mark the 60th anniversary in the latter part of December.

= TASS said they support the idea of congratulatory messages. TASS also suggested, if possible, that a face-to-face meeting of the forthcoming Executive Board Meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of OANA be held in December of this year. With the invitation of agencies capable of meeting the sanitary and epidemiological requirements of the host country. In case the epidemiological situation does not allow it, they suggested holding a video conference of the OANA EBM in mid-December to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the organization.

= In response to TASS’s proposal on a face-to-face meeting, the OANA Secretariat voiced its view that it is difficult to arrange a face-to-face meeting, given that the ongoing pandemic is not likely to improve rapidly in the foreseeable future. In addition, the OANA Secretariat said that it upholds the idea of having a brief video conference of the EBM in late December to celebrate the 60th birthday of OANA on the condition that the main agenda of the meeting is centered on highlighting the anniversary, and enough executive board members agree to take part in the event. However, there has been no response from other Executive Board members following the idea which was made by TASS.

[Other proposals]
▲ AZERTAC proposed restoring the sharing of news on OANA’s Facebook and Twitter pages

= The OANA Secretariat vowed to actively explore any way to resume the sharing of news content on OANA’s Facebook and Twitter pages through the consultation with AZERTAC, a former OANA chair agency.

▲ AZERTAC suggested that OANA membership fees for members be discounted for one year in 2022, considering any financial burden facing OANA member agencies due to the ongoing pandemic

= The OANA Secretariat fully supports AZERTAC’s proposal that the 2022 OANA membership fee be discounted. The OANA Secretariat suggested a 50% discount for the 2022 annual membership fee.
= IRNA supported the OANA Secretariat’s suggestion for a 50% discount for the 2022 annual membership fee. The OANA Secretariat plans to apply a 50 percent discount for the 2022 annual membership fee, which is a one-off move for 2022 only.

▲ AZERTAC proposed using OANA’s financial resources to conduct master classes for the staff of member agencies with the participation of experienced professionals once a year. Such arrangements could dissuade future withdrawals of members who have raised issues regarding the lack of tangible benefits and returns (i.e. sharing of know-how, technical support, etc). Furthermore, AZERTAC presented the mechanism for spending financial resources and conducting the events as follows:
- flight ticket of one person from each agency is purchased at the expense of the agency;
- stay in the country where the master class is to be held and other expenses are paid from the OANA budget;
- master class specialists can be invited both from member agencies and from outside;
- master class duration is 4-7 days;
- the sponsoring organization can cover some costs

= In principle, the OANA Secretariat said that it has no objection to this initiative which was raised by AZERTAC, suggesting that further discussions are needed and a consensus formed on how to put such proposals into practice. The OANA Secretariat called for further detailed discussions on this topic in future in-person gatherings like EBMs or the General Assembly.
= IRNA mentioned we should consider the feasibility of the proposal in terms of finances and OANA’s budget.
= TASS said that it, in general, supports the idea forwarded by AZERTAC to hold master classes, but the history of discussion of such issues shows the lack of generally accepted and accessible criteria for the topics and methodology of such master classes. The proposal could be put forward again for a general in-person discussion. TASS added agencies should discuss the financial and legal aspects of such initiatives, and that at present, holding such master classes can be achieved through bilateral or multilateral arrangements between interested organization members.