The Commonwealth Journalists Association is headed by a president and four vice-presidents with an executive committee of journalists elected by the conference and drawn from these regions of the Commonwealth – West, East, Central and Southern Africa, Australasia, Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Pacific and South Asia.
Derek Ingram (UK) was elected first president of the CJA in 1983. He was followed by Ray Ekpu (Nigeria) in 1990, Murray Burt (Canada) in 1997. Hassan Shahriar (Bangladesh) in 2003 and Rita Payne (UK) in 2012. At present, Pat Perkel of Canada is the Executive Director of the CJA.
The CJA works with other international bodies, including the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) and Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust (CPU-MT), in defending the independence and safety of journalists where they are seen to be in danger.
The CJA was one of the bodies that co-founded the influential Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), now headquartered in New Delhi.
General conferences of CJA members are held to consider their needs, journalists’ freedom and other common interests. Conferences have taken place in Cyprus (1983), New Delhi (1987), Barbados (1990), Windhoek (1994), Hong Kong (1997) Abuja (2001), Dhaka (2003), Kuching, Malaysia (2008) and Malta (2012).