UN Mulls Reducing Press Space and
Raising Costs, Reducing Access
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
July 17 -- As the scheduled
emptying and multi-year fix-up of the UN headquarters building draws
top officials in the UN's Department of Management are actively
on how to make the UN less attractive to the press. Previously,
at the UN had been told they would be relocated to comparable offices
is now the UN's library, and would then return to similar space where
now, on the third and fourth floors of the UN.
in a July 15 memo,
"Principal Officer" Lena Dissin says that "Angela" Kane,
the new Under Secretary General for Management, "has asked us to
get some benchmarks from other organizations to see what facilities if
may make available to the press," and on what basis. Inner City Press
informed by multiple sources that consideration is being given not only
space for journalists, but also charging enough money for it to drive
the press out. Reporters at the UN have
been shown blueprints of planned new offices, and have been briefed
comparable "swing" space in the library.
Angela Kane and microphone, press space and
press conference not yet shown
UN's noon briefing on July
17, Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Marie
Inner City Press: One more thing,
an in-house kind of thing. We're told
there's a move afoot by the Department of Management, both Ms. [Angela]
and Lena Dissin, to look at comparable space to see how
other institutions provide space for the press. The
press here have been told that things
will stay the same after the Capital Master Plan but there's now a
which the Department of Management is seeking to see whether other
provide space at all. Can you ask the
Department of Management to state whether there's any change in policy?
Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: Sure,
but as you know, the United Nations
Correspondents Association (UNCA), I think, has been in close contact
Capital Master Plan people on the planning.
So I think you are directly involved as an officer.
Inner City Press: That's why this
letter was so surprising.
Deputy Spokesperson: And you
also have a functional role that you
can take this up outside this briefing.
Inner City Press: Okay, but since
Ms. Kane has been the head of the department for a while, maybe she can
Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: That's
a good idea. I'll ask her.
the day, the Spokesperson's office told Inner City Press that "the
Secretariat is looking at all space issues, and that it is always
to see how other organizations handle these issues." What's not said is
that the inquiry involves reducing the number of spaces for
journalists, and raising
costs to drive some out.
Capital Master Plan more generally, at a town hall meeting on July 16,
called this a "historic" moment. Trying to limit press access would
certainly lead to stories. CMP head Michael Adlerstein, when asked
contractor Skanska having triggered methane gas
by its drilling by the UN's
foundation, as exclusively reported by Inner City Press, responded
that he knows about all pipes under the UN. But why then
did he call the Con Edison utility when the methane smell arose?
questions. As noted, it's time for a briefing by Management honcho Kane.
And this --