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Tearing Down Flyers, UNCA Late on “Open Access” Board, Book Burnings?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 – At the UN more than elsewhere, people say one thing and do quite another. Take for example the UN Correspondents Association.

  After a 2012 in which several UNCA Executive Committee members including Reuters' Louis Charbonneau and AFP's Tim Witcher tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, on December 7 a new Free UN Coalition for Access was launched.

  Beyond its founding raison d'etre of defending the rights of journalists to enter, cover and get answers from the UN, already FUNCA has successfully advocating for equality for those being treated unfairly, for example a wire service forced to share office space when others aren't, a journalist denied accreditation in 2008 (who is back in) and fair treatment at photo ops.

  These issues, and now a critique of the UN's accreditation rules and Media Access Guidelines, FUNCA has put on flyers and taped them on the wall next to UNCA's glassed-in bulletin board and the adjacent office of UNCA president Pamela Falk.

   These flyers have been torn down every night. In many cases they have been defaced and then partially torn -- while the UN is willing to censor, it doesn't tear HALF a flyer down.

  This is UNCA, which also tore flyers off Inner City Press' cubicle door, and posted one mocking an alleged victim of sexual harassment.

  It is shameful, leading some to ask: what's next, an UNCA book burning?

  But here is where the UN-ese comes in. In the midst of this particularly censorship campaign, the UNCA Executive Committee, or at least eight of its fifteen members, got together on February 7 and claim to have approved a proposal for an “open access bulletin board.”

  How novel. But how hypocritical, after weeks of tearing down FUNCA flyers.

  And why should this UNCA, after trying to throw journalists out of the UN, using its bulletin board for post a letter for months denouncing Inner City Press, and now mocking an alleged victim of sexual harassment, have its own glassed-in board?

  To have a protected board for one decaying group, then another “open access” board for everyone else, is not the right solution. And UNCA is too late on this. Does the next step or next new low involve UNCA doing book burnings? Watch this site.

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