The 15th General Assembly,
35th, 36th Executive Board
& Editorial and Technical Committee Meetings
of the Organization of Asian-Pacific News Agencies
September 18-21, 2013
I. 35th Executive Board Meeting
September 18, 2013, Moscow
1. The 35th Executive Board Meeting was held in Moscow on September 18, 2013, and was attended by Board members: AAP, AZERTAC, XINHUA, PTI, ANTARA, IRNA, BERNAMA, MONTSAME, YONHAP, ITAR-TASS, ANADOLU.
2. The 35th Executive Board Meeting was opened by the greetings of ITAR-TASS Director General Sergey Mikhaylov, who on behalf of ITAR-TASS News Agency welcomed participants of the 15th OANA General Assembly and expressed his hope for fruitful work of the forum.
3. The agenda of the 35th Executive Board Meeting and the minutes of the previous 34th meeting of the Executive Board in Tokyo were adopted unanimously by the proposal of OANA Secretary General Ercan Gocer.
4. The OANA Secretary General Ercan Gocer presented his report to the meeting, making a brief summary of the work carried out during the period of the Turkish Presidency at OANA (2010-2013), listing appointments and meetings held over the past three years and expressing hope for a successful presidency of the ITAR-TASS News Agency.
5. The agenda of the 15th OANA General Assembly was adopted unanimously.
6. The next 36th Executive Board Meeting was decided to be held on September 20, 2013 at the 15th OANA General Assembly closure, when the newly elected Executive Board will meet for the first time.
II. General Assembly: Inaugural Session
September 19, 2013, Moscow
7. In his welcome remarks OANA Vice President Mr. Vitaly Ignatenko, the ITAR-TASS Chairman of the Board, gave high appreciation to the Turkish Presidency at OANA and expressed hope for a successful and fruitful OANA forum.
8. Sergey Mikhaylov, ITAR-TASS Director General, conveyed the welcome message of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the participants and guests of the 15th OANA General Assembly.
Mr. Putin said, “OANA is truly considered to be one of the oldest and most prestigious international associations of news agencies. Its comprehensive activities contribute to the consolidation of the media community in the Asia-Pacific region, direct and free exchange of information in the region. The intense dialogue is to enhance technological and creative cooperation of the news agencies, help to develop balanced approaches to existing acute problems. Together, you will be able to do a lot to form a stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. It is symbolic that this forum is taking place in Russia. I am sure that the meeting in Moscow will be useful for all participants, launching promising ideas, interesting projects and initiatives.” (Text of the welcome address annexed).
9. Inaugurating the 15th OANA General Assembly Valentina Matviyenko, Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, pointed out, “The efforts of the world's leading news agencies relating to the development of mutual understanding and cooperation are very important. It is news agencies that generate the original flow of information, organize it, actually taking part in generation of the global agenda and political decisions of the State. As the Chairman of the upper house of Russia's parliament, I believe that it is important to note that our parliamentary diplomacy is aimed at enhancing mutual trust among the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. We stand for the joint improvement of the world order, ensuring equal security for all members of the world community to be altogether based on time-tested principles. From this very point of view we approached preparation of the 21st Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum that was held in January this year in Vladivostok. We are interested in participation of foreign investors, our partners in the Asia-Pacific region, in implementation of specific projects in Siberia and the Far East. We rely upon the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. It is in the Russia's national interests and contributes to the consolidation of stability in this region and opens enormous opportunities to the Asian-Pacific countries for extension of economic and investment cooperation with Russia”.
10. The Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Sergey Zheleznyak read the welcome message of the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, who congratulated the leaders of ITAR-TASS News Agency on the forthcoming presidency at the OANA and expressed hope for a successful forum, “Today, while various countries undergo political and economic transformation, and regional conflicts are erupting, the journalists working in news agencies and other media bear huge responsibility for objective representation of ongoing events. In its activities the Russian Parliament pays much attention to the development of media and freedom of expression. Not only do we stand for the direct free flow of information, enhancing opportunities for communication, but we also propose new forms of legal protection to the journalists, representatives of one of the most dangerous professions, particularly, in matters relating to the coverage of conflicts.”
11. The Director General of Anadolu Agency Kemal Ozturk, OANA President and Chairman of the Board, in his speech before the Assembly stated that, “OANA has always functioned as a common platform for the vast area of the world where diverse political systems, colors, races, cultures and religions coexist. As news agencies we should act in line with our historical responsibility, let our humanistic conscience be our guide to promote the availability of news information to people in the world. On the contrary to functions and objectives of OANA we have been witnessing undesirable examples coming from some of the world media about Egypt case. Some of world media broadcasted the killing of Mursi supporters as “conflict between two sides” instead of “massacre” and “military coup”. The coup government killed its own defenseless people, arrested international media serving in Egypt, shut down offices of news agencies and prevent media agencies from doing their jobs. The strict limitations blocking journalism are being implemented in Egypt. In Syrian civil war a number of journalists are killed or wounded. We wish the Syrian civil war to come to an end as soon as possible. With these examples, I wanted to emphasize the significance of improving free flow of news and information, as OANA’s core foundation purpose says. I would like to thank Mr. Sergey Mikhaylov and ITAR-TASS News Agency for hosting and organizing the 15th OANA General Assembly. I wish this meeting to be an occasion for more exchange of ideas and interaction among news agencies of the world”.
12. The ITAR-TASS Chairman of the Board Vitaly Ignatenko announced that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova have sent the welcome messages to the participants and guests of the 15th OANA General Assembly.
III. General Assembly: First Plenary Session
September 19, 2013, Moscow
13. Sergey Mikhaylov, ITAR-TASS Director General, emphasized in his speech that, “The Asia-Pacific region’s potential is huge and every year the world development vector is shifting to Asia. This renders our work more important than ever… I believe that veracity is the main priority in the work of any news agency… Our duty is to ensure that our clients receive only truthful information. This is our main competitive advantage. We are the mirror of the world. The reality itself currently depends on how truthful our representation of this reality will be. The development of the events in the future very often depends on how accurately and quickly we do our work…The situation in the Middle East and Africa is a good example. The wrongful information does not have to be turned into weapons. Instead, the information is intended to be a means to prevent and solve problems”.
14. Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, read the greeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, “15th OANA General Assembly is a notable event of the media activity in the Asia-Pacific region. The agencies participating in OANA play a significant role in the global information flow. With the rapid development of communication technologies, particular importance is attached to the activities of traditional media agencies that considerably influence public opinion. Professional, objective representation of events, counteraction both the encroachment of intolerance and promotion of terrorism and extremism - these are the key to solutions to the existing problems, including the resolution of conflicts based on international law. I am convinced that your discussions will contribute to strengthening of cooperation, joint efforts in the interest of confidence-building and mutual understanding as essential preconditions for peace and security at the regional and global levels.”
15. Ercan Gocer, OANA Secretary General, Head of Anadolu International Relations Department, talking about the OANA’s development stated in his report that the Declaration adopted in Istanbul in 2010 stressed the importance of intellectual property rights and freedom of the press and pointed out the challenges of globalization, modernization and marketing. The 33rd session of the OANA Executive Board in Mongolia in 2011 was devoted to OANA’s policy in cooperation and expansion of information sharing among the member-agencies. “The Golden Jubilee” of OANA was celebrated in Bangkok (Thailand) in 2011, where the Organization was founded in 1961. At the 34th OANA Executive Board Meeting held in 2012 in Tokyo (Japan), member-agencies recognized that the Internet does not diminish the importance of news agencies, and vice versa, it can be used to support their activities. This meeting paved the way for introduction of new technological opportunities in creating websites and mobile platforms. The last meeting held in 2013 in Istanbul, was devoted to the Internet revolution.
16. Talking about the website Ercan Gocer mentioned that the new OANA’s website was launched in October 2011. Since that time it has been changed. Content management system has moved to open sources, and the OANA members can upload their content. There is also an open user archive. Approximately 200 pieces of news are being uploaded daily to the website.
17. Speaking about the accumulated membership fees Ercan Gocer made note that it amounted to USD 100, 000 as of September 17, 2013. These funds are to be transferred to ITAR-TASS that acts as the new OANA President to be spent as necessary on the Organization's activities.
IV. General Assembly: Second Plenary Session
September 19, 2013, Moscow
18. The Second Plenary Session was devoted to the country report presentations which were delivered by the respective member agencies in alphabetical order: AAP, AZERTAC, Trend, BSS, Xinhua, KCNA, ANTARA, NINA, Fars, IRNA, Kyodo, Kabar, NNA, BERNAMA, PNA, Yonhap, TNA, VNA.
19. The country reports were presented on one of the following common themes:
• “Building Trust and Cooperation in Asia-Pacific Region: the Role of Media”;
• “Transmedia communications and news business challenges”;
• “Globalization and authority of media in maintenance the national interests of Asian-Pacific countries”.
20. Among the proposals, suggestions and recommendations in the country reports the following issues where stressed:
a. The major task for news agencies is to introduce and then widely use advanced technologies, build cooperation with the Internet and social networks, which became an integral part of our life. At the same time, news agencies must preserve their role of main information suppliers and survive in stiff competition on the market;
b. Massive information technology development will stimulate news agencies in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 10 years, pushing them to use all possible means to circulate their news.
c. The journalism career has become more dangerous than before. OANA needs to promote the respect to freedom of press, guarantees of the journalists' rights and their important role in consolidation of the democracy concepts all around the world;
d. Cultural exchange programs, trainings and seminars would contribute to the better knowledge of one’s neighbors and discovering common cultural roots and similarities. Such cooperation will create the necessary background for further political and economic cooperation and prevention of conflicts;
e. In order to reach common goal, OANA member-agencies need to strengthen professional cooperation through information exchange and experience sharing, as well as jointly organize events to promote the OANA image and trademark as well as its members;
f. All the OANA member-agencies expressed their willingness and commitment to play an active role in strengthening cooperation among Asian-Pacific, to work with other members to bring vitality to the OANA mechanism, to drive forward cooperation and common development, to make positive efforts to boost trust and collaboration with news agencies in the Asia-Pacific region and to contribute to ensuring regional stability and peace.
21. Mr. Aslan Aslanov, Director General of AZERTAC proposed holding the next OANA General Assembly in Baku in 2016;
22. VNA expressed its hope to receive support from other member agencies to be elected to the OANA Executive Board at this General Assembly.
V. Editorial and Technical Committees Meeting
September 20, 2013, Moscow
23. The meeting was opened by OANA Secretary General Ercan Gocer who invited the heads of the delegations to make the national reports outstanding from the Second Plenary Session, i.e. PTI, further to the discussions.
24. These were summaries with the full reports being made available to the attendees.
25. Ahmed Mohammad Shakeel, General Manager of Press Trust of India, drew attention to the fact, that some members of OANA have delayed the payment of membership fees or do not pay at all. He suggested that non-paying customers are to be deprived of voting rights at the General Assemblies of OANA. He called to fill the OANA Website content primarily with political and economic information more actively, stressing that certain agencies hardly provide any such information.
26. Opening the meeting of the Editorial and Technical committees of OANA, Ercan Gocer reminded, that in October 2011 the new OANA website that provides a simple and convenient access to all members of OANA, including the transmission and receipt of information, was launched. This has been achieved through the use of modern CMS modules. The website design and the presentation of information has been changed. Currently, the website allows the users to receive textual, photo- and video-information. There is the system by which agencies could upload their own content. The website has moved to Open Source software, the navigation system and the design of the website have been Improved. There are also options to make stories public or protected. Sometimes there are problems with the processing of textual information that comes from certain agencies. He expressed hope that the ITAR-TASS News Agency as OANA President will continue the work to improve the website.
27. Alexander Klein, ITAR-TASS Deputy Director General, thanked Anadolu for fruitful work done on the site. At the same time he stressed, that ITAR-TASS News Agency has the resources to optimize the website to make it more functional and convenient for OANA members. ITAR-TASS has the relevant technical means. Ideas about how to improve the website are multidimensional and provide for:
a. elimination of the information gap in content filling, including through an automatic import of information to the website;
b. website optimization for social networks and search engines;
c. creation of platforms for mobile applications.
28. The OANA website is to be an important platform for exchange of information on developments in the region, taking the interests of all agencies into account.
29. One of the key areas is development of audio-visual information, taking localization of video materials and their presentation in English into account.
30. Bruce Davidson (CEO, AAP) accepted the decision of the ITAR-TASS of providing for the website design meeting the requirements of both smartphones, tablets and other mobile platforms. He also added that all parties should fill the OANA website with relevant information actively, as well as improve communication between the OANA members.
31. New ITAR-TASS’s technical proposals will be agreed on with the OANA Technical Committee and other member-agencies as well.
32. Touraj Shiralilou (IRNA) raised issues about the hacker attacks on the website of the Syrian news agency SANA. Discussion on this was dismissed on the basis that this session was about technical issues. Ercan Gocer (Anadolu) refused to debate the matter, because political issues are not to be discussed at the meetings of the Technical Committee.
VI. General Assembly: Third Plenary Session
September 20, 2013, Moscow
33. The Third Plenary Session was devoted to the guest media presentations:
a. Mr. Dmitry Mezentsev, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO);
b. Thomas Kent, Deputy Managing Editor and Standards Editor of the Associated Press, USA;
c. Kate Fairhurst, Vice-President of Scribble-Live, UK.
34. In his welcome address Mr. Dmitry Mezentsev presented information about the SCO. In 2001, the heads of six countries decided to create an organization to ensure regional security, but in 12 years it has also seen new development in the war against extremism, terrorism, drug trade and illegal arms trade.
35. Mr. Dmitry Mezentsev asked the participants to pay greater attention to events in the SCO countries. The Shanghai organization is open for communication and expansion.
36. Thomas Kent in his speech talked about the impact of the web and social media on the work of news agencies. “Traditional or mainstream news organizations are critical in the process of providing the understanding around news events, the public relies on them to provide a coherent and reliable account of the news.
37. Credibility and accuracy is critical in the presentation of news. Social media is rife with examples of fabrications. Quite often information shared in social networks is inaccurate or misleading. Credibility of journalists will increase if we are not hypnotized by what’s going on in social networks.
38. The media and social networks can successfully coexist. There needs to be a balance. And we need to be clear and transparent. Every agency needs to come up with owns rules. AP has policies: we do not allow our reporters to express political opinions, we allow re-tweeting if sources are credible”.
39. Kate Fairhurst shared her thoughts about live news reporting, “Over the past five years, ScribbleLive has been growing rapidly. We have offices around the world, we work closely with various news agencies. Now the world is changing, the transition from print media not only to radio and TV, but also to online media takes place. All this has had an enormous impact on our activities. Now there is a huge demand for digital content. Our content is not static, it is constantly being updated, and this brings us to the communication of news in real time.
40. Telling stories online in real-time can be a dynamic way of communicating and controlling social media messages. If you have a live report, the traffic increases greatly, thus increasing the number of consumers. We can also get to subscribers in another way by hosting these live news reporting which is also known as live news blogging.
41. There is a notion that the traditional article is dead and that live news reporting is the way of the future. Statistics to support this notion: The live news produces 300% more views than traditional online reports”.
VII. General Assembly: Forth Plenary Session “Elections”
September 20, 2013, Moscow
42. By unanimous decision of the participants ITAR-TASS Director General Sergey Mikhaylov was elected the new OANA President.
43. By unanimous decision of the participants ITAR-TASS First Deputy Director Mikhail Gusman was elected the new OANA Secretary-General.
44. Proposal moved by Kyodo to change the Executive Board membership to increase it from 11 to 13 will be executed accordingly by making amendments to articles 10 and 12 of the OANA Charter.
45. There are regions within the Executive Board membership: East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Commonwealth of Independent states, Australasia. There must be at least one representative on the board from each region.
46. The new OANA Secretary-General, Mikhail Gusman, proposed a list of new members of the Executive Committee for a vote, including: Xinhua (China), VNA (Vietnam), YONHAP (South Korea), AZERTAC (Azerbaijan), Kyodo (Japan), WAM (U.A.E.), ITAR-TASS (Russia), Anadolu (Turkey), AAP (Australia), Press Trust (India), MONTSAME (Mongolia), Bernama (Malaysia), IRNA (Iran). By unanimous decision of the members, all the 13 proposed members of the OANA Executive Board were approved.
47. Mikhail Gusman proposed a list of new members of the Technical Committee for a vote, including: Antara (Indonesia), ITAR-TASS (Russia), Kazinform (Kazakhstan), KUNA (Kuwait), Anadolu (Turkey). At the suggestion of the Iranian party (MNA) the list was extended from 5 to 7 members. The news agency Irna (Iran) and MNA (Iran) joined the committee. By unanimous decision of the members, the proposed members of the OANA Technical Committee were approved.
48. Vote for determination of the date and venue for the 16th OANA General Assembly in 2016. Nominated candidates are IRNA, Mehr, Azertac. However, Mehr has withdrawn from the candidacy and declared support for IRNA. 23 member-agencies took part in the vote. Following the vote, Azerbaijan was pronounced the winner with the result 14 to 9.
VIII. 36th Executive Board and Technical Committee Meeting
September 20, 2013, Moscow
49. The meeting was presided over by the newly-elected OANA Secretary General Mikhail Gusman (Russia), ITAR-TASS First Deputy Director General, who proposed to elect OANA Vice Presidents.
50. According to the established procedure, the post of one of OANA Vice Presidents was filled by an agency that presided at OANA during the previous term (Anadolu). The post of the other OANA Vice President was filled by the agency that would receive the next OANA General Assembly (AZERTAC). At the suggestion of OANA Secretary-General Mikhail Gusman AAP and the IRNA were also elected Vice Presidents.
51. The Assembly welcomed IRNA’s offer to establish the Committee for OANA’s advancement and renovation.
52. The Assembly welcomed AAP’s offer to establish the OANA Ethics Committee.
53. Kyodo (Japan), Bernama (Malaysia), AAP (Australia) were elected members of the OANA Ethics Committee.
54. The Ethics Committee should develop journalistic standards for member agencies and assist in promoting the rights of journalists to access information, primarily in countries with complex situation and restrictions on freedom of the media.
55. At the suggestion of Mikhail Gusman the first meeting on OANA’s advancement and renovation will be held on the margins of the World Congress of News Agencies in Riyadh in November 2013, where OANA president along with four vice-presidents will take part.
56. Alexander Klein, ITAR-TASS Deputy Director General, urged all the member-agencies to pay membership fees as the development of the site will require great funds and a cash reserve.
57. Mr. Klein welcoming any assistance with the OANA website promotion asked the member-agencies to create a list of suggestions and send them to ITAR-TASS, and suggested that the work of all assisting agencies will be noted on the website.
58. The 15th OANA General Assembly closed on September 20, 2013 with ITAR-TASS extending gratitude to outgoing OANA President and Secretary General and to all the member-agencies taking part in the meeting as well.