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UN Censorship Alliance, Whose Head Calls UN "We," Outed in Dutch

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- Is it the function of journalists ostensibly covering an institution to provide photo-ops for the head of the institution?
 
  Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked that question two weeks ago, when
the UN Correspondents Association promoted Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's appearance at their soccer game with ambassadors they also purport to cover.

   Now, that UNCA's Executive Committee and its head, Pamela Falk of CBS, are too close to Ban Ki-moon and the UN has been outed in Dutch, as well, here, by Maite Vermeulen of De Correspondent. As auto-translated:

Pamela Falk is the head of the UN Correspondents Association. They just got a new lounge in the UN building. But how journalism is her job really? Falk talks about 'we' when she talks about the UN. To what extent such a journalist can have an independent way to do post about the UN? Its news agenda is not fully determined by the UN itself, rather than by its own journalistic instincts? And if these 200 accredited journalists are the only ones on whom the UN in the news, is not it misleading?

  We'll have more on this: the scribes saying "we" when they talk about the UN they are supposed to be covering and holding accountable says it all. UN Censorship Alliance.

   It is symbiosis: the scribes want to be seen as having access, and in this case the group UNCA which has a documented (by FOIA) history of trying to get investigative media thrown out of the UN, doing nothing when the News Agency of Nigeria was evicted from the UN due to a lack of space when the UN gives UNCA a big room that sits empty and dark most days -- UNCA is grateful to be promoted by Ban's spokesman. But why is he doing it?

  The UN's Office of the Spokesperson these days even more than before won't give straight answers, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Darfur to South Sudan, while increasingly on the margins of issues like Iraq and Ukraine, it's now a time for bread and circuses.

  This group, the old UN Correspondents Association, in 2012 demanded the censorship of Inner City Press reporting on its screening in the UN of Sri Lanka's goverment film denying war crimes, which noted that UNCA's President had previously had a financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador.

  And there at the game, which the UN's own Twitter account promoted along with its handpicked scribes, the former UNCA president was in his UNCA jersey. To whom is he renting now?

  UNCA itself promoted without irony or comment the participation of "Egypt Ambassador Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil" -- which push came to shove, or push-over, there was no mention of #FreeAJstaff. Here was Ban with Egypt's Permanent Representative, here.

  On July 3, an UNCA board member from Reuters tried to re-purpose the promotional photograph as.... Journalism is not a crime. A day late - and this is the same Reuters which has via a bogus Digital Millennium Copyright Act filing gotten Google to ban from its Search a copy of Reuters "for the record" complaint trying to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. The DMCA filing is here, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation's ChillingEffects.org; the (now half censored) underlying filing with Dujarric is here.

  After similarly trying to get removed from the Internet factual coverage of the UNCA president's diplomatic rental income, the UNCA Executive Committee not only tried including through Dujarric to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN -- they also refused to implement any reforms or best practices in its relationships those it is ostensibly covering. Financial relationships? No problem, apparently.

  Nor has UNCA adopted any rule that it will not seek to censor or get journalists thrown out of the UN - it continues as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

   So Inner City Press quit UNCA, to whose Executive Committee it had been elected, and it co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which is for example pushing for, wonder of wonders, accurate answers in the UN Press Briefing Room by the UN Spokesperson.

  Typically, when on April 15 outgoing French Ambassador Gerard Araud right in the Briefing Room told a Lebanese reporter, who had paid dues to UNCA, that "you are not a journalist, you are an agent," UNCA dragged its feet.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access formally asked Dujarric to convey to Araud and the French mission the stated position, that accredited journalists should be treated with respect. But Dujarric declined.

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