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As UN Bans Press' Periscope Livestream, Smale's Compact Cites Twitter, YouTube and Weibo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 – The decline at the UN of basic transparency under Antonio Guterres has hit a new low, with his May 10 "Senior Managers Compact Ceremony" being made closed press, unlike under Ban Ki-moon, and Inner City Press being ordered not to live-stream his May 11 meeting with Finland's foreign minister, despite UN Television shooting video and audio of it. Inner City Press put online here on Scribd, here on Patreon, the Department of Public Information's Alison Smale's 2018 Compact, which has nothing about treating the Press which covers the UN fairly. Ironically, in light of the May 11 banning of Twitter Periscope use by Inner City Press, Smale's Compact speaks of new media: increasing social media account usage by 5%, specifically mentioning Twitter, as well as China's Weibo. It mentions Google's YouTube, and UNTV's audio and video, to increase public awareness of the UN. So why ban Inner City Press' Periscope? Why keep Inner City Press confined to minders, while giving its office to no show Egyptian state media, and a now empty office to the "Turkish Journal"? What are the rules? Smale has not answered this.

   As to the Compacts overall, Inner City Press covered and photographed such ceremonies, for example here - but Guterres is more secretive.  More devious, too: now instead of disclosing which of his officials have declined even basic public financial disclosure, their names are simply missing from the list. In the current (May 10) list, where are Under Secretaries General Alison Smale, for example, or Jean-Pierre Lacroix? On May 10, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane "The Censor" Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about the compacts.  You just said… I was struck when you said that these compacts are new and a new transparency.  I heard you say that word.  I think… since you were the Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon as well, these ceremonies were always open press in the past.  And so I'm wondering, how is it consistent with the idea of a… of a new transparency in the compacts that this was closed press…

Spokesman:  There was a family photo.  The signatures of the compacts were, in fact, done by… each senior official did it on their own time.  This was the first time the Secretary-General met with them after it had all been done and finalized.

Inner City Press:  And on…

Spokesman:  And I'm… go ahead.  Go ahead.

Inner City Press:   Okay.  So…

Spokesman:  What…

Inner City Press:  you don't see it as inconsistent that it used to be open and now it's closed.

Spokesman:  Your next question, sir.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  The next question has to do with also financial disclosure.  In looking at the financial disclosure provided in… link at the bottom of the Secretary-General's page, it seems like there's a number of USGs that are not on the list, one being Alison Smale of DPI, one being Mr. Lacroix of DPKO.

And I'm just wondering, in the past, if people weren't going to disclose, they would say… there would be a piece of paper… you'd click it, and it would say "I'm not disclosing".  That was then changed to just their names are not on the list.

How is one to know… does this mean that these two individuals have chosen not to make even basic financial disclosure or for some reason…

Spokesman:  I'll check it.  I can't speak to it off the top of my head. Masood." Six hours later Dujarric closed his office, without providing any answer. Smale has yet to answer detailed petitions for fair treatment of the Press, while awarding Inner City Press' office to no-show Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom, and a similar space to unknown Turkish Journal. This is censorship. We'll have more on this - and more Compacts and Evaluations. On May 11, with no answer from Dujarric, Inner City Press asked deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Yesterday, I had asked Stéphane about the… the… the compacts and also the public financial disclosure on the Secretary-General's website.  He said he would look into why both… just as an example Under-Secretaries-General [Jean-Pierre] Lacroix and [Alison] Smale don't… there's… there's no… they're not included on the list.  Do you have an answer on that?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, no, I don't.  But, the general point is that there is an option, a voluntary option, to have your disclosure put on the website.  We encourage openness among the senior officials to do that, but for a variety of reasons, they may find it best not to do that.  The fact that their names are not on the website does not mean that they have not made the disclosures.  Everyone who's a senior official has made their disclosures to our firms.

Inner City Press: Right, but does it mean that they have chosen to opt out of the public financial disclosure?

Deputy Spokesman:  Either that or it hasn't been uploaded so far.

Inner City Press: And I wanted to ask about the compact.  I'm sorry, this is on the same topic.  Yesterday, Stéphane said these compacts are… are representative of transparency, et cetera.  So, I wanted to know.  I've seen some of them, but are they… are these compacts meant to be available to the public?  And also, it seems that, at least as I've seen them, that Jan Beagle, there is no compact, or as of yesterday late afternoon.  Although other Under-Secretaries-General had a 2018 compact, Department of Management did not.  Is there a reason for that?

Deputy Spokesman:  "I think Stéphane said all we have had to say about the compacts yesterday.  I don't have anything to add." Why aren't the compacts public? We'll have more on this. Three days after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had his UN Security hinder Inner City Press from covering his Portuguese language garden party in the UN, now Guterres has invented a new restriction on longstanding UN photo opportunities, limited them to undefined "photo agencies only." Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric acknowledged to Inner City Press in writing that this is something new, but has yet to explain what the definition is, why the restriction is being imposed and who is behind it. Ultimately, it is Guterres, increasingly untransparent. Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Dujarric two rounds of questions about this on May 9, ultimately with Dujarric saying it was "self-centered" to even ask - this hours before Inner City Press was banned from covering Guterres' UNdisclosed 3:30 pm meeting with Al Sharpton, unlike another photographer. From the UN's May 9 transcript,  video here: Inner City Press: this morning, Rosemary DiCarlo was sworn in as the new Head of Department of Political Affairs (DPA).  And, in the media alert, I didn't realize you were this closely in… in… in charge of it, but it says, "photo agencies only".  So, apparently… I guess I'm wondering, this is a change, and you've described this as "photo agencies are entities whose main purpose is photo coverage".

Spokesman:  That would seem logical.

Inner City Press: So, does this mean that, for example… I see it as… it seems like you would want more coverage rather than less up there, but my question is, by that definition, it seems like wire services are not… their primary purpose is not photo coverage.  So, is this… I'm asking you… That's why I need…

Spokesman:  Okay.  I think the question was to me.  I'm trying to bring some rationale in the way photo ops are organized.  I think entities who do photo coverage on a regular basis, whose primary goal is to do photo coverage, like the photo services of the wires, will be covered by it.  There are other photo ops where there will be comments and speaking will be open to a wider range.

Inner City Press: But my question… you said entities, number one, so the primary purpose… you're now saying that entities can have different components.  Is this directed at a smaller media I just would like to know…  It's kind of tumbleweeds up there.  There's nobody there.

Spokesman:  It's directed at rationalizing the process, as I see it.  Thank you.

Inner City Press:Did you consult with anyone before you did this?  Because there's people that take photographs… there are a number of photographers at the UN, including some that double with UN Photo, as you may know.  Just a unilateral…

Spokesman:  Everything was consulted. 

  But with whom? Inner City Press asked later in the May 9 briefing: Inner City Press: f you're going to change who has access to the 38th Floor, you need to define "photo agency".  But I was told today that MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit) has been charged with creating a list of individuals who were allowed to go upstairs.  So, I wanted to know… If that's the case, I wanted to know what your stance is…

Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew, Matthew… you're…

Inner City Press: No, seriously.  I take photographs and publish them in a service, and so I want to know…

Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, besides me, you're probably one of the most self-centred people I've ever met.  This is not about you.  This is a decision we've taken to rationalize the process…

Inner City Press: So is the list going to be made public?  I'm asking you.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Michelle, sorry, Michelle, did you have a question?" That would be Reuters. This comes after Inner City Press covered Guterres offering "warm regards" to Egypt's anti-press Sisi, to whose state media Akhbar al Yom Guterres and his Alison Smale are awarding Inner City Press long time UN work space. Now Guterres is trying to select who can cover his swearing in of new Political Affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and his meeting with Martin Luther King III. Both were listed as "photo agency only." Inner City Press asked Dujarric, "please explain in tomorrow's Media Alert the new use of this phrase: “Photo agencies only” - why has this been added? What does it mean? Who defines it? What is the reasoning / purpose?" Dujarric replied, "As for the media alert, this is for events that are photo-ops only. We will have UN photo, UN TV and photo agencies only. Yes, it’s a new thing." Inner City Press has asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq: May 8-1: Where is the definit[ion] of "photo agencies"?  May 8-2:  Separately, what is the purpose of trying to limit access to usually ill attended photo ops? May 8-3:  Who decided on this 'new thing'?" Shortly before the 9:25 am deadline, Dujarric replied, "i’m trying to bring a bit more order and sent to how we do photo ops. “Photo agencies”  are entities whose  imain purpose is photo coverage." It's laughable - as written, it must also exclude Reuters, AFP, AP and others. But at the May 9 noon briefing, these went for once and Dujarric made it clear they and others could still go. So what is the definition? Inner City Press is informed that there is now in preparation of list of (Dujarric / Guterres) approved correspondents. But when Inner City Press asked - since it publishes photos on Alamy, more than others said to be on the list - Dujarric replied from the podium that Inner City Press is "self-centered." This is sleazy, and worse. We'll have more on this. Inner City Press has never even tried to ask a question at a UN photo op. It's that Guterres wants to prevent coverage, for example of his "warm regards" to Sisi. This is corrupt. The UN Media Alert for May 5 listed a “Portuguese Language Day Celebration;” when Inner City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres it was told there would be remarks by Guterres, who is increasingly rarely in New York. Events in the UN Media Alert are open to all journalists - but in today's UN, rules mean little.

On May 5 UN Security stopped Inner City Press saying, No, I know who you are. Another UN Security Officer asked, Why don't you like the UN? Haiti cholera impunity came to mind, or UN Security Deputy Chief McNulty throwing Inner City Press' laptop on the sidewalk when it was evicted (audio here) for covering an event in the UN Press Briefing Rule - also ostensibly open to all journalists.

  On My 5 while UN Security was focused on making it impossible for Inner City Press to do its job, they allowed children, presumably Lusophone, to play on the UN's slavery memorial, which its Department of Public Information took money for from now convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng, even according to the UN's own audit. The UN was turned into Antonio Guterres' Lusophone garden party. Any number of state media, like rarely present Egyptian Akhbar al Yom to which DPI under Alison Smale continues to assign Inner City Press' long time work space to, could enter and cover the event without no interaction much less blocking by UN Security. (Smale retweeted Guterres' Portuguese language self celebration, here - but could not or would not assure that the Press could cover the event, in the Media Alert, and has not in eight months responded to 5000 signature petitions and request for reinstatement and rules).

  The May 5 targeting of Inner City Press -- "I know who you are" -- is allowed by downgrading and keeping down Inner City Press as "non resident correspondent," while giving full resident correspondent status to no-show state media like Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef who has not asked the UN a question in more than a decade. Inner City Press, by contrast, is required to have a minder. But the UN is a place now of targeted censorship - the cancellation by the UN Alliance of Civilizations is just the most recent example. We'll have more on this.


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