Ban Plans Sunday Haiti Trip, Picks South Korean and UN Media, Spurned
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 15, updated Jan 16 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
will fly to Haiti
for a one-day trip on Sunday. To publicize his trip, Ban will be
by journalists from France's wire service and television station, and
in a surprise to some, South Korean media.
journalists who had put their names on the list to go demanded to
know why they were not included, while not only South Korea media but
also the UN's own in house self documentarians were selected.
representing a major South Florida daily, says he was told by Ban's
spokesman Martin Nesirky, this is not like selecting a soccer team, I
don't have to say how I made choices, remember, I'm not new at this
job, I was with Reuters for years.
Nesirky told the reporter the criteria included multi-media
platforms, "coverage of the UN," circulation, history of covering the
region and inclusion
in the directory of the UN Correspondents' Association. At least one
of the invitees does not comply with this last criterion. And it is
unclear, at least to some, if by "coverage of the UN" positive or
negative coverage is meant.
of South Korean media seems designed, several correspondents told
Inner City Press, to feed Ban Ki-moon's image in his native country,
they also saw a wider communications strategy at work.
was and is a disaster, they were quick to acknowledge. (We agree.) But
for both Ban and his spokesman to resist for days now answering
questions on any topic but Haiti represented, to them, a drive to
remain "on message" as a politician would.
the January 15
noon briefing, Nesirky told Inner City Press that "I'm sticking with
Haiti today," when a question about a rocket attack near
the UN in Kabul was being raised. Video here,
from Minute 43:05; the exchange was omitted from the UN's
Nesirky later relented and
allowed this and a question about the UN in Somalia to be asked, ten
hours later neither question had been answered. Even Nepal, on the
Security Council's agenda with the UNMIN Mission, got no UN
headquarters support from the UN on Friday, click here for
Inner City Press story today
on this and impunity.
UN's Ban and his spokesman on Jan. 14,
only Haiti questions, even those (on Haitian staff) not answered
expose of corruption in Ban's UN that moved on American newswires on
Tuesday was never asked about or responded to, lost in the UN's wall
to wall statements on Haiti.
matters, controversies were identified, outsourced and marginalized.
When questions arose about Ban not counting casualties above the UN's
national Haitian staff in the nation-specific presentations he made,
to member states and to the press, Ban next said he would not report
by nation, only Nesirky would.
in turn tried to explain the
UN's reporting focus on international staff, and then to argue that
while processed differently, reports of the deaths of national
Haitian staff were treated equally.
several waves of negative coverage in 2009, on topics ranging from
seeming weak with strongmen in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. (Inner City
Press went on Ban's May 2009 Sri Lanka trip, remaining on the issue
since and, in full disclosure, applying to cover Ban Haiti trip.)
recently, Ban has been accused by French President Nicolas
Sarkozy of saying and accomplishing too little before, at and after
the Copenhagen climate change talks.
natural disasters are the UN's finest (media) hour, these long time
correspondents said, pointing to the post-tsunami omnipresence of
Kofi Annan's humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland.
In this case,
himself needs better coverage -- the correspondents tied it to Ban's
drive to get a second five year term as Secretary General, since more
than three years of his first term have expired -- and so he, rather
than Egeland's successor John Holmes, is presented day after day at
the stakeout camera.
And now on a
flash tour of Haiti, documented by
the UN itself and South Korean media. Mr. Ban has scheduled a meeting
with UN staff in New York for Monday at 11 a.m.. Watch this site.
when Nesirky was selected, and Inner City Press asked if the fact
that he speaks Korean and has family and professional tied to Korea,
having covered Seoul for Reuters, were part of the reason why, the
question was not answered. Then Nesirky came to a briefing and, while
taking no questions, pointed out that he speaks German as well, but
France is understood to have insisted that UN lead
spokespeople speak French, the UN's other working language. Now
French print, TV and wire are all included on the Haiti trip, along
with South Korean media. Whether all this assists in the drive to
assert the UN's centrality in coordinating aid and action in Haiti
remains to be seen.
of Saturday, Jan 16, 1:30 p.m. -- Fifteen hours after the
of the article above, the UN's Ban and Nesirky reversed course and
moved to include two more wire services on Ban's trip, increasing the
size of the Ban-tourage. Their initial exclusion, and the inclusion
of South Korean media (and UN in house documentarians as media)
remains unexplained. Watch this site, and see this morning's Inner City
Press story on U.S. description, with little UN in it, of aid work in
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