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UN's Charade of World Press Freedom Day Had Bid to Censor Opposition

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 -- At the UN, the head of the UN Correspondents Association felt comfortable on World Press Freedom Day complaining to the top of the Department of Public Information that UN Television dared cut away to a shot of a skeptic during her speech claiming UNCA protects journalists.

  It happened on May 1, when UNCA's 2013-14 president Pamela Falk grandiosely attempted to launch a Twitter hashtag promoting the group. An UNCA member, rather than obediently tweeting the contrived tag, noted online that when Falk claimed the "GA commends UNCA every year," UNTV camera cuts to @innercitypress shaking head in disbelief, too funny.

 (The UNTV video, which we've gone back and found for the reasons below is online here, from Minute 30.)

  As we first diplomatically recorded, the UNTV control room got a complaint about their camera angles. This is called attempted censorship, as is this Digital Millennium Copyright Act filing with Google, here.

  Now we can report based on multiple sources that Falk herself complained to the top of DPI - and that this complaint, rather than being as it should have been laughed at and rejected, was passed on to the control room, trying to dictate even what the camera operators film as cut-aways.

  This is outright censorship: the UN's Censorship Alliance's reverse flow.

  In 2012, some on UNCA's Executive Board tried to pursue the investigative Press for its coverage of UN official Herve Ladsous and also separately of France's ambassador Gerard Araud, then moved for expulsion based on coverage of Sri Lanka. Now, UNCA's president demands that the UN itself change how it films, to censor opposition.

  Out in the real world, the UN Secretariat had no comment on Ethiopia's jailing of journalists including the Zone 9 Bloggers, when asked about it by the new Free UN Coalition for Access. As we covered on May 8, the UN has yet to speak on Yemen's deportation of one of the few (but more than two) non-Yemeni journalists working in the country. The next story is Myanmar - watch this site.


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