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US Call for Inebriation-Free Zone Draws Double Reuters Coverage, Reality Ignored

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4 -- Some say corporate media is suffering and slimming down, and largely that is true. But not at the UN, at least not for Reuters.

  How else to explain the listing of two separate reporters, then an additional editor, on a story that is little, very little, more than a mere transcription of a public UN-televised speech by US ambassador Joe Torsella?

On Monday morning in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee, Torsella spoke and memorably asked that “negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.”

He was referring to the tradition that late in the budget negotiation sessions, usually near Christmas, delegations along with bringing in pizza and other food for the group will sometimes bring in liquor.

Some of this takes place after all deals have been reached, but while the documents to vote on are being printed -- thus, not impacting negotiating at all. Even the drinking before the deals has sometimes been useful.

None of this is mentioned, however, in the Reuters two-reporter story. It simply transcribed what Torsella said, and added this “analysis” -- “Diplomats who participate sessions have told Reuters that it is not unusual to see delegates showing visible signs of having imbibed heavily.”

  There's a word missing in the sentence, more than an hour after publication. Who's been drinking? (Can't ask Reuters, or even raise the typo: UN Censorship Alliance president Pamela Falk of CBS intoned on February 22 in front of UN offocials who did not disagree that contacting such a media company "might be a crime.")

  One of the two reporters on the Reuters story, who has complained about his name being published while saying that the Inner City Press website is the “fundamental problem,” has quoted also unamed diplomats asking if the way he is covered makes him worry about his “personal safety.” Click here for story, here for audio.

If the Torsella transcription story is any measure, of over-capacity at Reuters, job safety might seem to be a more realistic worry. Watch this site.

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