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As Reuters Turns Routine Quotes into Breaking News, Why Is Dying Media Bitter?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 6 – How mechanical and servile have the wire service correspondents at the UN gotten?

  On February 4 when incoming Security Council president Kim Sook held a press conference, he was constrained by “tradition” as he put it to call on the UN Correspondents Association first.

  But under the current leadership, the best UNCA could come up with was a question by the new president Pam Falk about how North Korea was going to perform a nuclear test “in the next few days or even sooner.”

  Kim Sook launched into an answer that most journalists at the UN – and elsewhere – did not find newsworthy. An understandable answer, from South Korea's Permanent Representative. But hardly breaking news.

  But UNCA's First Vice President Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, who'd plopped down next to Pam Falk before she asked her question, then rose and ran up the auditorium stairs and out. He filed this quote as a snap alert, and later filed a three paragraph story based only on the quote.

  Is this journalism or stenography? As in other recent Charbonneau re-types of Ban Ki-moon expressions of concern, and Reuters' use of blind quotes of the UN declaring war in DRC, where is the value added?

Reuters' Charbonneau reaches for Ban Ki-moon, snaps and sleazy anonymous tweets, continuing, not shown, (c) Luiz Rampelloto

  Never mind that some few others made even more of Kim Sook's quote, making it appear at least from those headlines as if they'd had a one on one interview with Kim Sook rather than just sat upstairs in a cubicle watching it on UN TV.

 (In fairness, Agence France Presse is doing so little actual journalism at the UN that if it weren't for stories spoon-fed by the French Mission or its dump-job in UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, Tim Witcher and AFP at the UN might have nothing at all.)

  What's the point of being inside the UN if that's how you cover it? And spend your time anonymously tweeting against those who dare question this state of affairs, or dare actually ask questions? To be continued – watch this site.

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