The first three decades of FIEJ

in 1978, to mark the Jubilee of the FIEJ, Michel L. de St-Pierre, then Secretary-General of the association, reminded the delegates at the 30th Congress in the Hague, about the remarkable milestones achieved during the first three decades of FIEJ. This evocation of this past era should not sound outdated to modern readers. It rather reflects eloquently, and purposefully, what is still core to WAN-IFRA: a mission to protect the rights of journalists across the world to operate free media and provide its members with professional services to help their business prosper and perform their crucial role in open societies.



The constituent congress of the FIEJ had brought together representatives of twelve countries (Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, United States, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland). It was admittedly a modest start, but we were entitled to be proud of it when one remembers that the equivalent pre-war organization, the FIADEJ (International Federation of Newspaper Publishers Associations), which had been set up in 1933, had only fourteen members when it went out of existence. And several of them (Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) no longer enjoyed the freedom of expression by 1948, and so had no justification for belonging to the FIEJ .

The ambitions of the international Federation obviously ranged well beyond this initial group of twelve members, however representative it might be: national newspaper publishers’ associations in fifteen other countries were later to join: in 1949, Finland; in 1950, Austria and West Germany; in 1952, Japan; in 1953, Ceylon; in 1954, Liberia; in 1957, Israel; in 1962, Senegal and Turkey; in 1963, Canada and India; in 1967, Australia; in 1970, Indonesia; in 1971, South Korea; in 1978, Spain, as the brand new Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers submitted its application for membership at the 70th Congress in The Hague. Taking account of countries where FIEJ had associate members (Brazil, Cameroon, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, Pakistan, Tunisia), the organisation was already represented in 1978 in thirty countries. Its global character was already clearly reflected in the extent of its presence over all five continents from Europe to America and Asia, and across Africa and Oceania.


A survey carried out by the FIEJ in 1976 and statistics published by UNESCO in the same year showed that member countries of the FIEJ comprise 5,700 daily papers out of a world total of 7,900, in other words, 72% of the global press was a member of FIEJ. At this time the overall daily circulation of newspapers in countries belonging to the FIEJ, according to the same sources, amount, to 249 million copies out of a total of 408 million, in other words, 61 % of this total. Finally, according to figures published by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association in 1976, annual newsprint consumption by FIEJ member countries amounted to 19.1 million tons out of a world total of 22.4 million tons, in other words, 85% of total newsprint consumption.




The global character of the FIEJ was already reflected in the very places where its annual congresses have been held, providing a forum where newspaper publishers from throughout the world can exchange their ideas and compare experiences. The following cities have accommodated the FIEJ in turn: Paris in 1948, Amsterdam in 1949, Rome in 1950, London in 1951, Brussels in 1952, Paris in 1953, Stockholm in 1954, Zurich in 1955, Berlin in 1956, Naples-Venice in 1957, Tokyo in 1958, Milan in 1959, New York in 1960, Elseneur in 1961, Paris in 1962, London in 1963, Montecatini in 1964, Munich in 1965, Stockholm in 1966, Tel Aviv in 1967, Kyoto in 1968, Istanbul in 1969, Washington in 1970, Zurich in 1971, Brussels in 1972, Vienna in 1973, Copenhagen in 1974, Hamburg in 1975, Bologna in 1976, Tokyo in 1977 and The Hague in 1978.


Another way of putting it is that national organizations of newspaper publishers have acted, between 1948 and 1978, as FIEJ hosts five times in Italy, three times in France, Japan and West Germany, twice in Belgium, Denmark, the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, and once in Austria, Israel and Turkey. The FIEJ secretariat had also organized specialized conferences on specific topics whenever the need has been felt. For example, technical conferences were held in Paris from 1962 to 1970, enabling more than 300 managing directors and production managers of newspapers to compare and expand their technical knowledge year by year. These meetings were generally followed by tours (Scandinavia, United Kingdom, West Germany, United States, France, etc.), offering an opportunity to inspect achievements in the works. After the 9th technical conference, responsibility for these events was taken over by the INCA-FIEJ Research Association (IFRA), which turned them into the large Expo-Congresses.

In 1973 the FIEJ also initiated a series of marketing conferences which are held annually at the Paris International Congress Centre or the Convention Centre in Monaco. Under the name «Management and Marketing Symposia», these meetings have undoubtedly helped to spread marketing approaches and concepts within newspaper concerns.


Throughout the last thirty years, FIEJ publications have expanded to keep pace with the Federation. The oldest of them, the «News Bulletin » of the FIEJ, the title of which was changed to « FIEJ-Bulletin »The three indices of all articles published in issues 1 to 50, 50 to 75 and 76 to 101, which were published as supplements to issue 51 (January 1962), 76 (April 1968) and 102 (October 1974), clearly show the interest in the topics dealt with and the considerable sum of surveys and reports published since 1949. We need only add that the « FIEJ-Bulletin», until 1978, had already totalled 4,612 pages since it began.


« Newspaper Techniques », the technical periodical of the FIEJ, was introduced in 1956. The 48th and last issue was published in December 1967, after which it merged with the INCA publication the «Monthly» to become the «Monthly Newspaper Techniques», subsequently returning to the old title of «Newspaper Techniques», while still continuing to be published under IFRA auspices. It seems only fair to pay tribute here to the man who for twelve years acted as editor and sole contriver on the spot, G.M. van Wagtendonk (Netherlands). Of course, we must not forget the help he was given by an editorial committee chaired by Louis Charlet (France).


« FIEJ-Notes », the first issue of which was published in 1960, provides brief items of information in the intervals between « Bulletin » publications. Issue n° 65 will appear just after this XXXIst « FIEJ-Doc » consists of documentation files published on particular subjects. While the latest of them, number 14, is still fresh in our memories since reference is still very frequently made to it when discussing an «Integrated newspaper system», it is perhaps worth recalling that earlier issues were as follows: n°1, Purpose of testing and unified testing methods of newsprint and news inks; n°2, Moral, material and social conditions of journalists; n°3, Films on the press; n°4, Advertising tariffs; n°5, Juridical and financial systems of television; n°6, Rentability of press enterprises and «Space Control »; n°7, FIEJ analysis of the relations between newspapers, advertising agencies and advertisers; n°8, The works of the Seminar of the United Nations on freedom of information and, particularly, on the role of the publisher and the proprietor; n°9, Sales and distribution of newspapers; n°10, Special facilities essential to the press; n°11, Youth and the press; n°12, The newspaper as education media; n°13, The integrated newspaper system (CINS interim report).




Unfortunately, protests or approaches are not always successful in re-establishing justice, and the FIEJ, therefore, decided that the award of a prize with a worldwide reputation could sometimes carry more weight than an intervention. This is certainly one of the reasons which led FIEJ to create the «Golden Pen of Freedom» in 1961. The «Golden Pen», mainly designed to pay tribute to an individual who has rendered special service to the freedom of the press, has in seventeen years become the very symbol of the struggle that has to be carried on for such freedom. The list of winners is particularly eloquent in this respect.




1948 to 1958 was undoubtedly the decade of the «craftsmen». The job was to create the Federation, and this was the main preoccupation of members of the first Executive Commi tee elected at the first Congress, namely the President Johan van de Kieft (Netherlands); vice-presidents Albert Bayet (France), Erwin D. Canham (United States), W.T. Curtis-Wilson (United Kingdom) and Karl Sartorius (Switzerland); general secretary Claude Bellanger (France); general treasurer Jules Burton (Belgium).


When reading the minutes of that first Congress in Paris, it becomes quite clear that many of the problems that concern us today were already a central preoccupation of the FIE]. Newsprint supplies were covered by a resolution; delegates came out against taxes on the press, describing them as « antidemocratic measures ». Questions of production cost, working conditions and freedom of the press were mentioned.


Finally, Rene Maheu, former Director-General of UNESCO, who was then head of the freedom of information section at UNESCO, told delegates about the special importance his organization attached to information media and the setting-up of the FIE]. He told them of UNESCO’s wish to concern itself with the problems of our profession in close collaboration with interested parties – for it is clear, as he said, that « technical factors govern the effective exercise of freedom of information».We have quoted this expression because we feel that it should not be forgotten in the great debate that is beginning about a more balanced international exchange of news.


This « craftsmen » period, then, was marked by each individual’s specialization in a given sector – except for the general secretary, who covered all subjects and did every job – as they reported on newsprint or standardization of equipment, became experts in sales or telecommunications, highly qualified information specialists, defenders of human rights, etc. There is no doubt that this first decade was full of devotion, hard work and strict self-denial. It could only be followed by a period of institutionalization.




In several fields, however much time or effort was devoted to their tasks by experts, the work of a single man or small team was soon no longer adequate to meet the ever-wider problems facing the F IEJ.Taking developments in chronological order, this first applied to our general secretary, who from 1958 on was forced to call on the assistance of an administrative secretariat. Mr Pighetti was first to work at FIEJ, after which Michel St Pierre took over in March 1961, looking after FIEJ affairs from then on. They already extended over a very wide field: keeping of archives, carrying-out of surveys, editing of publications preparation and reporting on meetings, travel arrangements, representation at many associations, contacts with members, and so on. All this very soon involved correspondence amounting to an average of 5,000 letters or circulars annually.


Another innovation, made necessary by the complexity of the problems faced by our specialized rapporteur, Baron de Thysebaert, was the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC). This was the period when satellites were making their appearance, transmission techniques were becoming more sophisticated, and scales of charges increasingly complex; above all, it was no longer possible for a single man to keep pace with the weeks of meetings organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) or its International Telegraphic and Telephonic Consultative Committee (CCITT), with which we enjoyed the status of what were called « reciprocal arrangements ».


It so happened that the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU), which was closely interested in telecommunications problems, at that time had a specialist, Ivor Ray, who was able to attend these interminable meetings in Geneva, but who had to wear the FIEJ« hat» for the purpose since the CPU did not have our consultative status. A natural development was for the FIEJ and the CPU to think of setting up a joint institution which could keep a detailed watch on telecommunications problems.


Other large international or national press organizations subsequently joined us, so that the IPTC was set up in London in September 1965, following a decision of the FIEJ Congress in Munich in May of the same year. The first President appointed by the FIEJ was Stanford Smith (United States), and the FIEJ Director was appointed general treasurer. The first IPTC Director was naturally Ivor Ray, who retired two years later while remaining an active consultant. He was replaced by Oliver Robinson who, with reduced help and budget, carried out excellent work of benefit to all members, newspapers and news agencies. The FIEJ can certainly be pleased with its« daughter organisation».


Newspaper techniques were also changing fast during that period. Computers were beginning to be introduced into newspaper companies, facsimile transmission of full pages was at its beginnings, the use of colour was spreading, and offset was gaining ground. The work facing the inner commission responsible for these problems was therefore becoming increasingly burdensome. At the same time, the technical conference we had organized in Paris in 1962 not only provided a setting within which the most recent experiences could be exchanged, but were becoming a place where, year by year, the need to set up a special research institute for the daily press was becoming clearer and clearer. Schemes of this type were put before several FIEJ congresses in the sixties by T.H. Oltheten and Wim van Norden, but the financing of such a body obviously raised problems for our national organizations.


Meanwhile, the International Newspaper Color Association (INCA) had been set up during the same decade, originally in the form of a club open to only one newspaper from each country and devoting most of its activities to improving colour printing. Although it had subsequently extended its field of interest and slightly increased its membership, the INCA was also faced with certain financial problems. It was therefore seen as reasonable for the FIEJ to merge its technical activities (conferences, publications, commissions) with those of the INCA; this was done under an agreement of 18th January 1967, signed for INCA by Frans Vink and A. Kutzner and for the FIEJ by Wim van Norden and Michel L. de Saint-Pierre. It set up the INCA-FIEJ Research Association (IFRA). Fred Burckhardt subsequently took over from Hugh Davidson at the head of the Institute, and we all know the outstanding work achieved at Darmstadt under the presidency of the efficient Bill Pluygers (Netherlands), followed by the dynamic Gordon Linacre (United Kingdom). The FIEJ can take legitimate pride in its «sister organization».


Problems facing the press in countries belonging to the European Economic Community (EEC) also became more complex around 1960, involving the free right of establishment, definition of newsprint, introduction of VAT, standardization of customs duties. These considerations encouraged newspaper publishers’ organizations in the Common Market to join together in 1961 in the Community of EEC Newspaper Publishers Associations, CAEJ, now ENPA, the European Newspapers’ Publisher’s Association.


Although it is not really possible to talk of «institutionalization» in the case of the CAEJ, which has always refused to have any charter, the Community, which operates as a regional section of the FIEJ, nevertheless remains an « institution » to the extent that it made its voice clearly heard in Brussels and that it had achieved considerable results over the years.


The Common Market was not isolated from the world, and this work obviously benefits publishers’ organizations outside the EEC. The whole international Federation can certainly be grateful to succeeding CAEJ Presidents, Tommaso Astarita (Italy) and Frans Vink (Belgium), for the work carried out under their leadership with the help of Aldo Mazzara and Henri de Kimpe respectively, with the FIEJ Director acting as secretary to the meetings.


Finally, the introduction of the «Golden Pen of Freedom» in 1961 must also be included as a feature of this decade in the FIEJ’s history, since the award has undoubtedly become a real institution over the years. By the end of the second decade, the organization had consequently become more highly organized and stronger: it remained for it to systemize the work already achieved, and the structures already set up. Let us now see how this was done.




The structure of the FIEJ and its parallel organizations was now clearly defined, and what remained was to keep moving forward with the resources available.


While some went devotedly ahead with considerable work on their own – tribute should be paid to our newsprint expert Pierre Lejeune, whose worldwide reputation needs no further praise here -, committees set up during previous decades expanded, were rejuvenated and, in particular, increased in number so that they gradually provided systematic coverage of the almost complete range of activities of a newspaper company.


Obviously, one cannot mention by name all those who have been active over the years on these working parties: with the ten or so committees that have come into existence over the decade 1968-1978. This decade has certainly been marked by the « Committee for an Integrated Newspaper System» (GINS), the successive Chairmen of which have been John Forrest (United Kingdom) and Jan van Ginkel (Netherlands), who have energetically and persistently pursued a threefold action: it was the GINS which showed clearly the impact that data processing techniques would have on the actual structures of press concerns; the GINS was the first to draw attention to the development of new media; finally, it was the GINS that fought for years to introduce the idea of a further training scheme for newspaper management.


Victory on this last point came from steadfastness, not to say obstinacy. The first session of this scheme took place in October 1978, organized jointly by FIEJ and IFRA at the European headquarters of the famous Harvard Business School, at Mont-Pelerin near Vevey (Switzerland). Courses were given by members of the Faculty of Harvard.


This decade has also been marked by FIEJ programmes in the field of marketing. The Marketing Committee, chaired first by François Archambault (NRCO, France) and then by Frans Vink (Belgium), had cleared ground where there was much to be done: a certain traditional journalistic attitude, which condemned the term “marketing” before it was even explained. In particular, the Committee initiated annual marketing conferences, already mentioned above.


The Committee extended its field of action to management and, under the recent chairmanship of Jean-Claude Nicole (Switzerland), is planning to process newspaper statistics for all our member countries by computer, while continuing with its outstanding work on organizing «Management and Marketing» Symposia.


The work of the « Committee for aid to the press in developing countries» was also a feature of this decade. The change in its name to « Press development cooperation» Committee has come about without any change in chairmanship, which has been held from the beginning by T.H. Oltheten (Netherlands). He has achieved unrivalled pioneering results in this position: for example, in 1976 he organized a seminar in Indonesia on the rural and local press, one of the results of which was the development of micro-presses. Two of these presses were offered to FIEJ by the Erven J.J. Tijl Group. They were on show at the Congress in The Hague and were later made available to two developing countries. Finally, the research and initiatives of the « Communication policy » Committee have undoubtedly played an important role over the years. The exhaustive report submitted at the Bologna Congress by the Chairman, Dr Johannes Binkowski, and the subsequent resolution, have provided an enduring definition of the role of the newspaper free enterprise. The Committee did not spare its efforts before and after the UNESCO General Conference in Nairobi, fighting to prevent any attack on the concept of «free flow of information», and the proclamation of «the responsibility of states for activities in the international sphere of all the mass media under their jurisdiction».


Mention should also be made of how the FIEJ secretariat itself, supported by the recommendations of Jan Nouwen (Netherlands) and Viiino Nurmimaa (Finland), respectively chairman and secretary of the « Prospective and Planning » Committee, has been able to systemize its tasks, working methods, and relations with numerous international organizations (organizations in the United Nations sphere, such as UNO, UNESCO, FAO); other intergovernmental offices with consultative status at the Council of Europe since 1974; trade press organizations (International Press Institute, Inter-American Press Association, Commonwealth Press Union, World Press Freedom Committee, etc. ; advertising organizations (International Chamber of Commerce, International Union of Advertisers Associations, European Association of Advertising Agencies, etc.).


This record of thirty years obviously owes a great deal to the active co-operation of organizations making up the FIEJ membership. It is impossible here to describe the precise contribution of each of them to our work; however, since we have talked at some length of Europe, the cradle of the FIEJ, we should like to mention the outstanding part played by the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA) in the FIEJ activities on the one hand, and by Nihon Shinbun Kyokai( NSK) on the other.


To conclude these first three decades of FIEJ, it is fair to quote Albert Bayet, welcoming the first participants at a FIEJ Congress in Paris, in June 1948. «…The need to create an international press Federation has become clear because every press has, beyond its national mission, an international mission. The role of the newspaper in every country is to inform reliably, discuss frankly, and maintain the sense of brotherhood of the country. But the press must also work to, strengthen world peace based on justice. Accordingly, the free press is carrying on, peacefully, the same struggles as free peoples…»


This struggle for freedom, together with our efforts for better management of press undertakings and increasing adaptation of the content of newspapers: these were in 1978, as they were thirty years earlier, the basic justification for the existence of the FIEJ. They continued to guide our mission until now.


Michel L. de St-Pierre, Secretary-General FIEJ, 1978.