AIPS president Gianni Merlo addresses press freedom, global conflicts in Centennial letter


The International Sports Press Association (AIPS) president Gianni Merlo has called for new ideas as the organisation marks the beginning of its Centennial in 2024.

In a letter sent to AIPS members at the end of 2023 and released to newsrooms on 2 January, Merlo touched on a number pertinent issues from milestones achieved to current global journalistic and global problems, and to look forward to.

Read the letter below:

Dear Colleagues,

We are at the end of 2023. It was a year full of violence and fury, unfortunately, as the world gets crazy with wars. The conflict in Ukraine, the war in Gaza, thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives; kids, women, everybody.

I believe that now we need to begin to hope for a better future. Why? How? This is the problem. I think that sport can do its part in helping people go back to a normal life. I know it is only a dream at this moment, but I think that if we all work together for peace, fighting for it, one day it will be better for humankind. War is not only in Ukraine or in Palestine, it is also in many other places. This is a problem.

I believe that sport, for the young generations, can be something to save their future. As sports journalists, we must continue to believe in ideals of sports. We can be together again.

Our centennial next year will be very important for us. We will celebrate our Centennial: One century of reporters’ history, young and old. It is not a small thing, it is a big deal. On 2 July 1924, our colleagues had an idea, a dream, creating something special that still lives on today. We must be at their level: They were great people and journalists who looked to the future. They saw how humankind could be in the future.

Records in AIPS Awards now, at the beginning of the AIPS Centennial, we need to have new ideas. Last year we invested a lot in young reporters, having made 10 Young Reporters Programmes. We will continue in this direction, because only by bringing young colleagues together we can go towards peace. After, in our AIPS Sport Media Awards, we received 1880 total submissions, a record that we achieved also in the number of countries that participated this year, 141 nations. I believe we are in the right way as we are creating a tradition: No other award has such history as ours, with so many people performing for us, colleagues who want to be part of our Awards and also so many works. We can be proud of this, this is culture, a true investment in sports journalism.

Future challenges in the future we will face big fights, especially against Artificial Intelligence (AI). It can be a very useful tool. In the proper way it can be very helpful in our profession. On the other hand, I believe it could also be very dangerous for us, as it could cut lots of jobs. We need to find a solution together to save jobs, being also more modern for the next century, with the proper ideas and behaviour.

On the front line, we also need to fight for the freedom of journalism all around the world: There are still Iranian Colleagues in jail, and we do not know when they will gain freedom. The same goes in other countries. Even sports journalism is now on the front line, but we are in the front line for peace and we will keep fighting for it. This is our duty, as sports principles aim for a better civilisation and for a better world as well for everyone. Let us hope for a better future.

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