This document has been made available in electronic format by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) 

Communications  (1998)
 

July, 1998
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 18-23)

Communications
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Communications Strategy
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The Communications Department has commenced the implementation of the four-year communications strategy adopted by the ICA Board in Uganda in April 1997. Within the four-year strategy all components of the Communications programme are designed so that they can interconnect and facilitate multiple use of the same information. For example, publications can be made available on the internet or in multimedia form.

Publications
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During the reporting period, six issues of the ICA News were published in English, French and Spanish. The Spanish version is produced in Argentina and the French and English versions in Geneva.

Four issues of the ICA Review (including this Annual Report) have been issued during the reporting period. The first issue of each year is produced in collaboration with the Research Committee and in close consultation with its Chairman, Roger Spear. The Spanish issue of the Review continues to be published by ICA member organisation INTERCOOP EDITORIA COOPERATIVA LTDA in Argentina. The English edition is available on microfilm from Xerox-University Microfilms, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA.

Additionally, the department produced a new volume, number 31 in the series Studies and Reports on "The Impact of the European Unionís Enlargement on Co-operatives". All publications are available in electronic format on the Co-operative Gopher, a joint project between the ICA Communications Department and the University of Wisconsin Centre for Co-operatives. The Gopher will soon be converted to a web site available through the Co-operative Information Superhighway on http://www.coop.org

Co-op Database Development
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The Department set up a Working Group and worked with Gabriella Sozánski, ICA Europe Director, Arsenio Invernizzi, Special Projects Leader, MariaElena Chavez, Director of UN/NGO Relations, and Jan-Eirik Imbsen, Deputy Development Director, to develop together with outside consultants a database incorporating both the basic information needs of the ICA staff as well as providing statistics on the movement to ICA members, specialised bodies and other interested parties.

Documentation Officer, Alina Pawlowska, acted as resource person for the special workshop on database and statistics organised by ICA Europe at the ILO offices
on 7-8 May 1998.

The ICA Development Department has made a request to the European Union for funding a special project on data collection in Africa.

The second stage in the Database Development will aim to make statistics on co-operatives in static format available on the Internet for the general public as well as provide the database in searchable format on-line as a service free of charge to members
of the ICA and other funders of the project. COPAC will provide support to include information on co-operative development projects and make the database available
on the internet.

Internet Development
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A new apex site, the Co-operative Information Superhighway, has been launched with links to separate ICA or ICA partner sites. These include the ICA site, which can now
be found at <http://ica.coop.org> - the site has grown so rapidly it has once again been reorganised to facilitate navigation. The new apex site (http://www.coop.org) also has links to coops4kids, the Co-operative Information Centre, which is a joint project with Wisconsin University Center for Cooperatives, the Co-operative Research Register and the Virtual Community for Co-operative Education (VCCE). Provision is also made for links to a CoopTrade site, which is to be set up once funding sources have been identified. Information from the ICA database will also be available from the site in static format from September 1998 and in searchable format in 1999.

The new ICA site is now organised into seven sections as follows: ICA, Members, Regions, Sectors, Issues, Co-op Info and Development.

The new ICA site also contains information in other languages accessible via the home page, or by clicking on the national flags at the top of each language page. Although the English language site is by far the largest section, basic information is provided in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Swedish.

Another new development at the ICA is the VCCE site which was launched in June.
The VCCE or Virtual Community for Co-operative Education is a free association of
co-operative educators, developers, researchers, learners and communicators collaborating for the advancement of co-operative education and research. The VCCE web site provides the infrastructure for co-operators throughout the world to build their own collection of materials and resources which can be used by all. This web site aims to benefit from the Internetís multi-media potential in order to offer innovative educational materials to the international co-operative community. The information available is therefore presented in a variety of formats to suit different needs: web sites, text, images, photographs, videos, sounds, java applets, etc. The VCCE site is a result of ongoing collaboration between the ICA, the University of Saskatchewan and Apple Computers. It has been set up by Hazel Wilcox, a former volunteer and intern who has now set up her own business as an independent web development consultant and has contributed a percentage of her time on pro bona basis to the project.

The Department has also continued to develop the Co-operative Gopher Site in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives in Madison, USA. This site will soon be converted to a web site which will also be accessed via the Co-op Information Superhighway.

Targeted TV Strategy
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Two video news releases have been prepared in the reporting period. Japanese Health Co-ops funded the travel costs of the Director of Communications and the crew from World Television to visit co-ops in Saitama (just outside of Tokyo), Nagoya and Kobe. Filming these provided footage for a 7 minute documentary on health co-ops in Japan and a 4 minute Video News Release (VNR) on the role Japanese co-ops played helping a community in crisis after the earthquake in Kobe, thereby helping to save many lives.

The VNRs will be sent out to coincide with the International Day of Co-operatives and will each include a ďBĒ role i.e. additional footage to enable television broadcasters to make their own documentaries. The footage will also feature in the ICAís corporate video which will be produced later in 1999 in time for the Millennium Congress in Quebec.

Research and Documentation
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Documentation resources cover the theory, history, social economy, development policy, education and gender issues of the international co-operative movement. The unique feature of the documentation centre is its collection of primary documents from member organisations such as Annual Reports and statistical information. New areas of documentation: social audit and social/health care, emerging sectors.

The documentation centre attracts attention from young researchers who look for inter-sectoral information on the co-operative movement. The historical holdings continue to be frequently visited as the interest in recent history is growing. In the reporting period fifteen people worked in the Archives for periods ranging from one day to one week of consultation.

The centre collaborates with other documentation centres: ROAP in New Delhi, Deusto University in Spain, Moncton University in Canada, and HEC in Montreal, Canada.

The documentation centre also provides the following services: thematic files, lending of books, sending photocopies of articles, historical research.

The centre is open to member organisations and all other parties or individuals interested in the co-operative movement. A majority of requests for information comes from students and non affiliated organisations.

UN/ICA International Day
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The theme of the Co-operative Day message in 1998 is 'Co-operatives and the Globalisation of the Economy'. The message was made available in electronic format in May and mailed in early June.

A press pack commemorating the International Co-operative Day/UN International Day of Co-operatives was prepared in collaboration with the UN Director, MariaElena Chavez, and circulated to ICA members, UN organisations and regional offices, the co-op press, international media, non-governmental organisations and government ministries dealing with co-operation. As in past years, COPAC members contributed material for the pack.

The release of the above-mentioned video news release was planned to coincide with the
Co-operative Day and sent to all major TV news agencies, ICA Board members, regional offices, and selected partner organisations.

Services to Members and Specialised Bodies
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The Department continued to provide services to ICA members and specialised bodies including the provision of information, publications, photos, the up-date and dissemination of information sheets, the posting of information on members and specialised bodies on the co-operative gopher, and the provision of visiting cards and stationery for specialised bodies.

As part of the Departmentís service to specialised bodies, web pages have been set up on all specialised organisations and committees.

Member pages are also being produced for ICA member organisations, concentrating initially on Asia and the Pacific and West Africa.

The Department continues to collaborate with the ICA Research Committee and the Society for Co-operative Studies (UK) in the setting up and maintenance of the Co-operative Research Register.

The Director of Communications participates in the Plunkett Foundation Yearbook Editorial Board. The department also participates in the various task forces which have been set up at Head Office, providing input to various ICA activities including the organisation of meetings.

In addition, the Department provides secretarial assistance to the Research Committee
and the ICA Communications Committee.

In order to take advantage of the new communications technology currently becoming widely available, the Communications Committee has set up a sub-committee called the Working Group on Network Technology for Trade and Communications. The group is led by Byron Henderson, Communications Director of the University of Saskatchewan Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Staffing
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The Department has been increased from 2.9 persons in 1996/97 to 3 people in 1997/1998. The Head Office is also assisted on a part-time basis by Purushothaman
Nair from the New Delhi Office, who is responsible for preparing documentation for
the Co-operative Gopher and for the follow up of information collection for the ICA database in the Asia/Pacific region.

In order to respond to the increasing workload, the ICA offered two short term internships during the period to Rachel Gorney from Oberlin College USA from July to October 1997 and to Fanja Rasolomanana from Webster University, Geneva from April to June 1998. Care is taken to ensure that interns leave the ICA with additional technical skills to help them in their future careers, as well as an in-depth knowledge of our movement and ideals.

The Communications Department has also been assisted by several volunteers who have worked with the ICA via the internet, most notably by David Griffiths, Director of the Co-operative Federation of Victoria Ltd, who helped with testing of the ICA web site and links. The interns and volunteers and the increased use of the internet, have enabled the Department to respond to the ever-increasing demand for information on the ICA and the movement worldwide.

Future Developments
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Providing services to members and disseminating the co-operative message as widely as possible will continue to be the main objectives of the Department.

Database and internet development will continue to be top priorities in the next few years as will be the production and dissemination of video news releases on the co-operative movement.

In order to better serve our members, specialised bodies and the general public, the Communications Department will continue to work with interns and volunteers and to work with like-minded organisations on issues of mutual concern.

A resume of the four-year strategy, as well as articles on several of the new Communications Projects, are included in the Review of International Co-operation, Volume 3/1997.