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As Gulf & Western Media UNCA Starts Counterfeit of ICP, UN Cheers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 6 -- The same group of insider wire services and Gulf media which tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, unsuccessfully so far, have this week set up counterfeit Inner City Press social media accounts and troll-followed UN Missions, agencies and people who follow the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info.

  This comes less than a month after @InnerCityPress was named one of two "Twitterati" for UN coverage by Foreign Policy magazine (the only one based at the UN), and after reported on the propagandistic distribution of questions at the missile-justifying stakeout by US Ambassador Samantha Power on September 5, here.

The goal seems to be to now create confusion about which is the real @InnerCityPress account. It is not hard: @InnerCityPress has 6,725 followers and UNCA-linked counterfeit for now less than 25, while mass-following over 800. It's a nasty piece of business.

  Still, a communications chief of an NGO targeted by the UNCA trolls was fooled, and snarked about the account. Other FUNCA followers, when targeted, automatically followed back the counterfeit account.

It's a new low for this gang of scribes, who hide behind anonymous accounts since they work for big media companies like Reuters and Agence France Presse.

The UN bureau chiefs of these two companies, Louis Charbonneau and Tim Witcher respectively, both tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, as documented by e-mails obtained from US government agency Voice of America under the Freedom of Information Act.

    (VOA's Broadcast Board of Governors, on which Secretary of State John Kerry serves, has started stonewalling on the follow-up request, so an appeal is being filed this week.)

   Click here for VOA's request that Inner City Press' UN accreditation be "reviewed," saying it had the support of Reuters, AFP and Bloomberg (which after a letter to Matthew Winkler purported to drop out of the campaign.)

Reuters' Charbonneau as first vice president of the UN Correspondents Association, it is documented, passed an internal anti-Press UNCA document to UN accreditation official Stephane Dujarric three minutes after promising not to do so. Story here, audio here, document here.

  Once the Voice of America led push was exposed, Dujarric begrudgingly extended Inner City Press' accreditation, while providing pointers on how to cover Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous.

  Inner City Press quit the UNCA Executive Committee, to which it had been elected, and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access to actually protect journalists. (Here is a sample project by a FUNCA member in Somaliland, here.)

  Only this week, at a UN noon briefing, an UNCA insider tried to cut off the question of a FUNCA member reporting for Pacifica Radio's WBAI who asked about chemical weapons use by rebels in Syria. Click here for that.

In setting up the counterfeit social media account, the UNCA insiders stole the work of FUNCA's co-founder. UNCA long ago stopped defending journalists - it tries to get some thrown out of the UN, or to steal or destroy the work of others.

  And the UN, informed of UNCA's trolling back in February -- here is on the record audio of UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk, ultimately responsible for all this -- has done nothing.

  In fact, the UN's Department of Public Information has threatened to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' UN accreditation for hanging a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of its shared office, while UNCA has five signs.

  It's like being in a game in which the referee not only permits one side to sleazily (anonymously) attack the other, but even joins in gleefully in the attack. Apparently it's the law of the jungle.

  The UNCA Executive Committee members who have at a minimum done nothing to stop this are, as pictured lunching with Ban Ki-moon, Denis Fitzgerald of Saudi Press Agency; Melissa Kent of CBC; Sylviane Zehil of L'Orient le Jour; Tim Witcher of AFP; Ali Barada of An-Nahar; Kahraman Halicelik of Turkish Radio & TV; Pamela S. Falk of CBS; Lou Charbonneau of Reuters; Bouchra Benyoussef of Maghreb Arab Press; Yasuomi Sawa of Kyodo News; Masood Haider of Dawn; Unknown; Zhenqiu Gu of Xinhua; Stephane Dujarric of UN DPI

  This counterfeit trolling, this stealing or attempted destruction of journalists' work and attempts to block questions or censor is exactly was the Free UN Coalition for Access was formed and will continue. Watch this site.


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