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With Media Banned from GA Hall, 12 Standing Spots Protested by FUNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- How limited is press access to the UN General Assembly going to be this year? On the Saturday before the speeches begin, Italy sent out the following warning:

"Print journalists will have extremely limited space (10-12 spots standing room only) in one of the side booths and should report to the Media Center from where they will be accompanied by the UN press office on a 'first come / first served basis. TV/Photographers can follow from the TV booths in the General Assembly, accompanied by the UN press office on a “first come/first served” basis and should report to the Media Center; please be advised that due to the temporary location of the GA Hall, there are only 6 booths with limited capacity."

  The Free UN Coalition for Access has been challenging these restrictions at least since June. But at a press conference on September 13, when Inner City Press asked for FUNCA, this "standing room only" booth was presented as the response. Video here and embedded below.  FUNCA has issued a flier:

A booth without even laptops or a work table is not enough. And more stakeouts and Q&As must be provided. UN noon briefings should not be canceled, particularly not for mere two- or three-questions 'press conferences.'

The problems extend to the Security Council, with the media is penned in without electrical outlets; access to the UNSC’s trip to Africa has been ceded to France. A full range of coverage and questions must be permitted and not cut off. This is unacceptable censorship, as are the anonymous social media trolling and now counterfeiting begun by board members of the Association that does not want its name used. UN Room S-310 should be for all journalists, not only those paying money. We’ll have more on this.

Correspondents who have had their office space taken away and downgraded to a Green P pass are being blocked from re-entering the UN after “business hours,” even if their laptops are inside. To confine all media without UN office space to a North Lawn "Media Center," without even the stakeout around the corner that existed last year, is unacceptable.

  The UN must do better including on access. This is true not only for General Debate week, but for all year. This is true not only for media with offices in the UN, but for all those interested in covering the UN.

We'll have more on this. Watch this site -- and @FUNCA_info.


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