The CJA was founded in 1978 as a result of an initiative by a group of journalists after a conference of Commonwealth non-governmental organisations in Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia.
The launch had the full support of the then Commonwealth Secretary-General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, as well as the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation – the body set up to support professional people and organisations, which has contributed greatly to the CJA’s work ever since.
Since 1983 the CJA has organised training courses in developing countries of the Commonwealth. Some have been in specialised fields – for example, financial or political reporting, such as covering parliament and election campaigns.
Journalists in Commonwealth countries have a great deal in common, but the circumstances in which they work vary.
Despite the growth of independent papers, their media may lack resources, come under pressure from governments, commercial interests or even violent groups.
Access to high quality and specialist training is often difficult and journalists lack the machinery to get together to discuss their common problems and international and Commonwealth affairs.
The Commonwealth Journalist’s Association helps to remedy this situation, to bring journalists closer together and help raise their status and quality. It has branches and affiliations in many Commonwealth countries. The eventual aim is to have a branch in each of them.
Training programmes have been funded in the past mainly by the Commonwealth Media Development Fund (CMDF), set up by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1981.