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Absent from Press Q&A on Syria, UNCA Officials Conceal Complaint Information

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- Amid a series of press stakeouts on Syria on Sunday at the UN, in the parallel world of the UN Correspondents Association's top officials, the "urgent" move to expel Inner City Press persisted without disclosure.

  This is a case of big wire services seeking to use a supposed journalistic organization to expel a smaller media they have used.

  UNCA President Giampaulo Pioli, who on May 25 issued a notice of a May 29 session to appoint a "Board of Examination" to try to expel Inner City Press, did not come to the UN to cover the Security Council session on the killings in Houla.

  His Vice President Lou Charbonneau of Reuters, who on May 21 was bylined on a Reuters story stealing without credit an Inner City Press exclusive of March 28 that US official Jeffrey Feltman would come to work for the UN, did come to the UN and even sat at the multiple stakeouts.

  But he did not ask any questions, preferring to use the information gleaned by the questions of others.

   Foreign Policy's The Cable, for example, credited Inner City Press, but Reuters did not. At the stakeout on Sunday, a Russian UN correspondent thanked Inner City Press for another exclusive report which he said he'd used and credited.

  Charbonneau has said that he has a POLICY of not crediting Inner City Press exclusives, a statement that Reuters has yet to respond to.

  For the record, Inner City Press asked questions of and got answers from the UN Ambassadors of the UK, Syria, Germany, Russia and France -- whose Mission's tool Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse was seen near the stakeout, but who asked no on the record questions.

  Nor did Pioli respond to Inner City Press' sixth request that he provide the names of the five UNCA Executive Committee members he said had in writing requested the Board of Examination to try to expel Inner City Press.

  Since under UNCA's rules this Board must be "impartial," it seems clear that none of the five complainants, nor in context any correspondent which has used an Inner City Press exclusive without credit, can be on the Board of Examination.

  It is also clear that Inner City Press, as defendant, must have a role in selecting the Board, including making nominations and striking nominees if necessary for cause.

   None of this is possible without known who are the complainants, and the supposed victims. But despite Inner City Press explaining just this in its request to Pioli, no names have been provided.

   Inner City Press did not used to routinely cover these people, for the purposes of collegiality. But when big media says it has a POLICY of not crediting smaller media, and tries to get it expelled, the need for such coverage comes into focus.

   Presumably Charbonneau, who also filed a stealth complaint with the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit which controls media access to the UN, is one of the five complainants. Why not just give the names, then? Under his behind the scenes control of the UNCA Executive Committee, UNCA has become positively Kafka-esque. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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