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As UNSC Re-Opens Media Workspace Cut, Banning Press by UN & Partners

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- In front of the UN Security Council before it was closed for repairs, there was a media work-table from which to cover it. The table was maintained during the relocation to the UN basement under the General Assembly until May 31.

  But today when the Security Council re-opened there was no table. On May 21, Inner City Press saw and reported, and through the new Free UN Coalition for Access opposed, a rule which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office says it and the other parties including the old UN Correspondents Association agreed to:

"f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media. When the Council is not in session, correspondents should minimize the amount of time in the area, unless interviewing or conversing with a U.N. delegate or official."

From May 21 right into the weekend of the move, Inner City Press and FUNCA worked to get the rules suspended or modified, asking about it at six noon briefing and speaking with the Department of Public Information on May 31, and even on Saturday, June 1, both with respect to the so-called Turkish Lounge.

  Inner City Press was asked to hold off writing to allow a final pre-move check to take place -- and Inner City Press agreed, and abided by it. But this morning the Council opened, with the UK's Mark Lyall Grant hoping bilateral meetings in the Council, and there was no table.

  Where was UNCA during all this? Its 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS, who claimed to have not seen the draft of the rules that FUNCA was given, was robo-tweeting stories written by others. Her first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters was promoting the mega-corporation he works for, and himself.

  As Inner City Press has shown, the Gulf and Western big media who rule UNCA not only don't care about the table -- they generally sit upstairs waiting to be spoon-fed documents and spin by "their" missions -- but actively sought its elimination.

  This was both a matter of making it harder for smaller investigative media to cover the Council, and some say a way to "get back" at articles they haven't liked. In 2012 UNCA board member Voice of America, saying it had the support of Reuters, Agence France Presse through Tim Witcher, and others, asked the UN's Stephane Dujarric to "review" the accreditation of Inner City Press.

This was exposed using the US Freedom of Information Act, and the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote to the head of DPI asking to know the due process rights of journalists at the UN. (No rights, no real answer.)

  In 2013 it was Dujarric, with the head of DPI away, who wrote to Inner City Press and FUNCA, even before responding to the detailed proposed amendments submitted, that there will be no table. On May 31, the UN couldn't even state the status of the comments or the rules. But as the Security Council re-opened this morning on June 3, there is no table. We will have more, much more, on this. Watch this site.

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