Inter Press Service
Inter Press Service (IPS) is a global news agency. Its main focus is the production of news and analysis about events and processes affecting economic, social and political development. The agency largely covers news on the Global South, civil society, and globalization.
Inter Press Service was set up in 1964 as a non-profit international cooperative of journalists. Its founders were the Italian journalist Roberto Savio and the Argentine political scientist Pablo Piacentini. Initially, the primary objective of IPS was to fill the information gap between Europe and Latin America after the political turbulence following the Cuban revolution of 1959 (Giffard in Salwen and Garrison, 1991).
Later, the network expanded to include all continents, beginning with a Latin American base in Costa Rica in 1982, and extended its editorial focus. In 1994, IPS changed its legal status to that of a "public-benefit organization for development cooperation".
In 1996 IPS had permanent offices and correspondents in 41 countries, covering 108 nations. It had as subscribers over 600 print media, around 80 news agencies and database services, and 65 broadcast media, in addition to over 500 NGOs and institutions.
IPS’s stated aims are to give prominence to the voices of marginalized and vulnerable people and groups, report from the perspectives of developing countries, and to reflect the views of civil society. The mainstreaming of gender in reporting and the assessment of the impacts of globalization are a priority.
IPS may be unique in its concentration on developing countries and the strong relationships with civil society. For this reason, IPS has even been termed the probably "largest and most credible of all 'alternatives' in the world of news agencies" (Boyd-Barrett and Rantanen, 1998: 174/5), being the "first and only independent and professional news agency which provides on a daily basis information with a Third World focus and point of view" (Boyd-Barrett and Thussu, 1992: 94; cf. Giffard, 1998: 191; Fenby, 1986).
Despite all the laudable aims, it is, however, important to see that IPS has never possessed the resources to be a major player in the international media landscape. Because of its focus on longer background pieces instead of concise news, it has at most a marginal status as news provider for mainstream media in developed countries.
IPS is registered as an international not-for-profit association. It has 'general' NGO consultative status with ECOSOC at the United Nations, and the OECD status of "ODA eligible international organization".
Five editorial desks coordinate the network of journalists around the world: Montevideo (regional bureau for Latin America), Berlin-London (Europe and the Mediterranean), Bangkok (Asia and the Pacific), New York (North America and the Caribbean) and Johannesburg (Africa). Most of IPS's journalists and editors are native to the country or region in which they are working.
IPS receives funding from various sources: through its subscribers and media clients, as beneficiary of multilateral and national development cooperation programmes, and as recipient of project financing from foundations. It is not, as most other agencies, financed by a country or a group of newspapers. Hence, the agency’s budget is comparatively small. Still it manages to be "roughly the sixth largest international news-gathering organization" (Rauch, 2003: 89).
IPS's role in the mediascape
The actual role of IPS in the international mediascape is hard to assess. Clipping services are expensive, and do not exist in many countries where IPS is strong. Additionally, in some countries news agencies are not credited in bylines. One study by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization for media coverage of the FAO in 1991 found that of the nearly 3000 clippings with news agency bylines, 13% credited IPS, making it the third-most cited agency. IPS reports were collected from 138 different publications in 39 countries - more countries than any other agency. IPS was particularly strong in Latin America - 72% of clippings from Latin America with news agency bylines came from IPS.
Impact is limited by factors such as:
- IPS's limited financial resources;
- its inability to cover all countries with an appropriate number of correspondents (in many countries, IPS only employs stringers);
- because of the two aforementioned limitations, IPS can only provide a scattered coverage about regions and issues, and is often unable to produce timely news and follow-ups;
- IPS's focus on background news "is not particularly attractive to market-driven commercial media" (Giffard, 1998: 200).
Prominent IPS journalists
- IPS, Our history
- Giffard, C. Anthony (1998) "Alternative News Agencies" In: Boyd-Barrett, O. and Rantanen, T.; eds. (1998) The Globalization of News. London: Sage Publications, p194
- Boyd-Barrett, Oliver and Rantanen, Terhi; eds. (1998) The Globalization of News London: Sage Publication
- Giffard (1998:195)
- "Thalif Deen". IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
- Jackson, Moses (June 2, 2005). "Respected journalist Fitzroy Nation dies". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
- Boyd-Barrett, Oliver and Rantanen, Terhi; eds. (1998) The Globalization of News London: Sage Publications
- Boyd-Barrett, Oliver and Thussu, Daya Kishan (1992) Contra-flow in global news. International and regional news exchange mechanisms. London: John Libbey
- Fenby, Jonathan (1986) The International News Agencies. New York: Schocken Books
- Giffard, C. Anthony (1998) "Alternative News Agencies." In: Boyd-Barrett, O. and Rantanen, T.; eds. (1998) The Globalization of News. London: Sage Publications
- IPS (no date) Style Manual. Rome: IPS [unpublished]
- Rauch, Jennifer (2003) "Rooted in Nations, Blossoming in Globalization? A Cultural Perspective on the Content of a "Northern" Mainstream and a "Southern" Alternative News Agency." Journal of Communication Inquiry, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 87 – 103. London: Sage Publications
- Salwen, Michael and Garrison, Bruce (1991) Latin American Journalism. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Ass
- Stiyn Joye (2009) "Raising an alternative voice: assessing the role and value of the global alternative news agency inter press service", JAVNOST-THE PUBLIC. 16(3). p. 5-20