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Minutes of the 2011 Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held at Europe House, 15:00-16:30 on Thursday, 19 January 2012


Opening remarks

Chairman William Horsley welcomed to the AGM the 16 members who were able to stay after the lunchtime meeting with Professor Michael O’Flaherty. Membership cards for 2012 had been distributed, and William expressed appreciation to Gill Thompson for producing the laminated membership cards, as in previous years. 

On behalf of the members, William put on record thanks to the European Commission Representation and UK Parliament Office for the free use of their meeting room. With the retirement of Michael Shackleton, a new Head of the EP London Office had just taken up his post – Björn Kjellström from Sweden. He, like Jonathan Scheele, the Head of the Commission Representation, would be welcome to join AEJ sessions. Michael Shackleton would remain an honorary member for 2012.

William expressed appreciation to David Lennon for all his work in the past year to arrange good guest speakers. The next meeting would be with the Turkish Ambassador on 17 February.

Chairman’s Report

William presented his written report. He said the AEJ Student Support Scheme had got off to a good start, with three journalism students having profited from the scheme already; he intended that it would continue. He warmly praised Celia Hampton’s work in making this a “model website”, with not only information about upcoming meetings, but a wealth of other content, such as background documents, relevant speeches and pictures of the annual congress, in a clear layout, frequently updated. He reminded members that there is interesting material about media freedom on the international website All were again encouraged to register so that they can view material such as forthcoming AEJ Congress plans in the Members Only area of the site.

He drew particular attention to the generous response of UK members to the appeal from Turkish colleagues to support a major campaign against the imprisonment of 60 Turkish journalists – a good example of the AEJ becoming more involved in media freedom issues in Europe (which, rather surprisingly, is one of the worst regions in the world for freedom of expression).

The UK National Commission for UNESCO had withdrawn its financial support for World Press Freedom Day events in London, in line with guidance from the relevant Department, DFID. But William was hopeful that an appropriate event would be held on 3 May 2012 in collaboration with the UK Press Freedom Network and the Society of Editors. He noted that 23 November is now the International Day against Impunity.

Responding to the report, members recognised the huge value of William’s work as the Media Freedom Representative of the International AEJ and its value to the British Section. Michael Springate confirmed that these activities cost the British Section nothing beyond the regular annual subscription to the international AEJ. Members were concerned that William might occasionally be obliged to pay his travel costs himself, and wanted to put on record the view that AEJ International should ensure all costs are covered.



Secretary’s Report

Section Secretary Margaret Hughes presented her report on 2011 activities. These had included meetings with nine interesting guests – approximately one per month not counting the summer and Christmas breaks.  She was particularly keen to encourage more young journalists to come to meetings, and asked members to consider proposing young guests.

The European Parliament Office had asked her to point out the EP’s UK website and invite members to subscribe to the email service to receive the EP events notices and newsletters. She hoped the section would be able to plan guest speakers a little further ahead to maximise our chances of getting a room at Europe House on the preferred days. Last December, for example, its meeting rooms were fully booked all month. This had made organising a year-end meeting impossible.

William warmly thanked Margaret for all her work during the year, and the meeting applauded her and David Lennon for the quality of the speakers. In an interesting discussion, members agreed that in 2012 the section should try to respond to the unprecedented financial crisis gripping the Eurozone and the rest of the EU by seeking guests who could illuminate this complex issue with inside knowledge.  David Lennon suggested several names proposed by William as possible speakers in the first half of the year. Various themes and names were discussed. Members were urged to offer names of potential guests by emailing Margaret, David and William, with contact details.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Michael Springate distributed the section’s annual accounts. He noted the lowest closing balance for five years. Nonetheless the section was still in the black. He proposed to keep the annual subscriptions to £30 for yet another year. Michael said the catering costs meant that some meetings were held at a loss.  William agreed that we should look again at the cost of the catering and try to reduce it. The high cost of renting meeting space anywhere outside our usual Europe House venue made it prohibitive to do so. Michael said that more members and better attendances at meetings would prevent continuing losses. Members were asked to renew their efforts to recruit more members if possible, and to encourage other journalists to come to AEJ meetings.

Election of Officers

Rick Thompson had proposed the re-election of the Chairman (William Horsley), Secretary (Margaret Hughes) and Treasurer (Michael Springate) for another year, with David Lennon being invited to continue as Events Director. There were no other nominations. David Barker seconded the motion and the officers were re-elected by acclamation, and appreciation for the great work done by the officers on a voluntary basis.

RT, 20 January 2012    





Chairman's report

Secretary's report to the AGM

Secretary's report on the UK Section's activities for the AEJ Congress