The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, publishers, and leading journalists, today announced that Executive Director Barbara Trionfi has informed the Executive Board of her intention to step down from her position by the end of 2022. Trionfi joined IPI in 2000 as coordinator of the organization’s Asia advocacy programme and has served as its executive director for the past seven years.

A committee to appoint a successor to Trionfi will be led by Ken MacQuarrie, a longtime IPI member and former director at BBC Scotland, alongside IPI Executive Board Chair Khadija Patel.

“Barbara has been an exceptional leader”, Patel said. “Her work has not been just for the good of IPI, but for the good of press freedom worldwide.”

Under Trionfi’s leadership, IPI has expanded its activities, both geographically and thematically, to address the increasingly complex challenges and threats to independent journalism around the world. As the oldest global network dedicated exclusively to supporting independent journalism, IPI’s unique strength in promoting press freedom is the result of the profound respect that its members enjoy in their countries and across the globe. Furthermore, IPI has been able to draw upon its members’ experiences and expertise in building truly independent news outlets to identify and share best practices and create opportunities for global exchange and partnership.

The organization’s advocacy efforts have been greatly strengthened over the past decade as IPI has been able to build solidarity among its members in the face of growing authoritarianism. IPI has expanded its advocacy efforts in Central and Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Africa in particular. Furthermore, IPI has launched a new independent journalism programme, which includes successful collaborative journalism and skills-exchange initiatives for investigative journalists, local media, and media operating in highly restrictive environments (here and here).  Since 2014, IPI has also played a pioneering role in analysing and defining strategies to counter online harassment and disinformation campaigns against journalists.

Over the past eight years, IPI has more than doubled its operational budget, while the budget specifically dedicated to activities on the ground – directly supporting editors, journalists, and news organizations – has increased 15-fold.

“Serving an organization with such an impressive mandate and history as IPI has been an immense honour and privilege for me”, Trionfi said. “For the past two decades, I have worked alongside a deeply committed and knowledgeable staff to understand and assess the many attacks that our global community of editors, publishers, and journalists faces every day and identify strategies to ensure that the IPI global network can offer support and strength to those who operate on the frontlines of press freedom.

“The battle for press freedom is a global one and the IPI global network has always promoted the idea that independent journalism is a pillar of true liberal democracy, of global peace, of anti-corruption efforts, of the fight for equality and inclusion, and of fact-based policymaking that serves the interests of the public. Without free and independent journalism, the ideals that we as a community share cannot be achieved.

“IPI’s battles are also often fought at the individual level: for the journalists imprisoned in retaliation for their work, for those killed as an easy way to silence them, for the news outlets forced to shut down for exposing government wrongdoing, and for those brought to bankruptcy through unfair lawsuits.

“Leading IPI for me has meant making sure that the organization could take advantage of the immense power of our global network to be there in support of each journalist and editor that is attacked because of their work.”

Before joining IPI, Trionfi worked and studied in China, where she carried out research into censorship mechanisms under the government of President Deng Xiaoping. She has held a range of positions at IPI, first leading press freedom advocacy for Asia and Europe. Later, as press freedom manager, she oversaw the organization’s global advocacy efforts. She was appointed executive director in 2015 at the IPI World Congress in Myanmar. Trionfi has also taught courses in media literacy, media ethics and diversity in the media at Webster University, Vienna.