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After UN Moves to Censor, Spox Calls Press Input Into Pick "Not A Serious Q"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 20 -- Yesterday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced as his new spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, who currently oversees the UN's News and Media Division and, among other things, the accreditation of journalists to enter and cover the UN.

  Today Inner City Press asked outgoing spokesperson Nesirky if there had been a formal recruitment to replace him, and if journalists would have any input into at least the criteria for selecting a new chief of UN News and Accreditation.

  Tellingly, Nesirky called the request for any journalists' input into the criteria to choose the head of division which ostensibly "liaises" with them as "not a serious question." Video here (at Minute 1:30) and embedded below.

  This stands in contrast, for example, to even the US Federal Reserve Board, which in selecting a new head of its Division of Consumer and Community Affairs is formally seeking input from the constituencies that Division deals with.

 So today's UN is more closed in on itself that the Fed, a financial regulator.

  Inner City Press asked what it wrote about yesterday: the issues raised by the head of media accreditation, in charge of choosing who can come in and ask questions, becoming the spokesperson who then faces and one hopes answers the questions.

  Beyond yesterday's initial report, the reason for the questions is that while he was atop Media Accreditation, not only did Dujarric receive and withhold (and, it seems, solicit and now censor) anti-Press complaints -- he also several times told Inner City Press how to cover and write about Ban Ki-moon and his head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, to the point of demanding an "urgent" explanation by Inner City Press of a single tweet mentioning World War Two, Germany and Dujarric's native France.

  The issue of censorship was and is raised, when an individual in charge of granting or denying accreditation to the UN tells the journalist how to cover the UN and some of its officials. We will have more on all this, including a claim Dujarric made that a meeting had been "off the record" when not only did Inner City Press say "this is on the record," but the other side (which Dujarric favored and favors) acknowledged the meeting would be written about -- Dujarric turned this into his own complaint letter.

  For now, while Nesirky said the idea that journalists should have input into the selection process and criteria for selecting the UN official who interfaces with and accredits (or doesn't) the media is "not a serious question," the Free UN Coalition for Access, formed after some of the stealth complaints and the censorship issues sketched above considers it a serious question and will pursue it. Watch this site.

Footnote: on the response that no recruitment process is needed, Ban can simply directly appoint both the spokesperson and the deputy spokesperson, it seems that previous Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey went through a formal recruitment process. Some also question the "intra-P3" switch in nationality of UN spokesperson from the UK to France. We'll have more on this as well.


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