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At UN, Reuters Hosts Minutes Used to Indict Inner City Press, Small Media Targeted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 2, updated below -- Ever since Inner City Press began complaining on May 21 that Reuters and its UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau used without credit Inner City Press' March 28 exclusive that US official Jeffrey Feltman would come to work at the UN, Charbonneau joined by other big media from Bloomberg, Agence France Presse, Al-Arabiya and Voice of America have been trying to expel Inner City Press.

  That Reuters is implicated in this attack on independent investigative media is most recently made clear by the sending out of inaccurate and incomplete minutes of UN Correspondents Association Executive Committee minutes purportedly putting Inner City Press in a bad light.

  An hour before it met to appoint a "Board of Examination" to "investigate" Inner City Press, the UNCA Executive Committee sent Inner City Press what it said were the minutes to four meetings stretching back to September 2011.

  Before the "Board of Examination" was voted on -- with as chairman a subordinate at Xinhua, whose bureau chief has already voted against Inner City Press -- Inner City Press formally objected to the minutes, noting that they were inaccurate and incomplete.

  As simply one example, Inner City Press' complaint at the May 29 meeting that Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, had explicitly refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about Haiti and Sri Lanka, and that no UNCA Executive Committee member had offered any support, was either not in, or deleted from, the minutes.

 Nevertheless, at 9:30 pm on Friday June 1, using the mass e-mail list of UNCA to which Inner City Press has been denied access to respond (on the theory, stated by Charbonneau and others, that "you have your blog"), three of the four sets of minutes were released. One entire meeting was excised, despite its use to charge Inner City Press with "harassment" in covering the French mission.

  The unnamed "UNCA NEWS" author -- pretty clearly Reuters' Charbonneau -- summarized:

"They [sic] Board of Examination will report back to the Executive Committee in 10 days. Detailed minutes of today’s meeting will follow in the coming days. We are also sending you links to minutes from our May 29, 2012 meeting to discuss complaints against Matthew Lee of Inner City Press, as well as minutes of several previous meetings on this issue. The Committee had previously kept those minutes private because of the serious nature of some of the allegations, and as the Committee had hoped the issue could be resolved internally."

  Most tellingly, when general UNCA members clicked on the links to the minutes on June 2, they would not open but rather led to this message:

"The server at can't be found"

  That is to say, the inaccurate minutes used to try to expel Inner City Press are hosted on a Reuters server.  (Click here for a Firefox screen-shot taken before, as expected, Reuters tries to conceal its role.)

   What is Reuters' commitment to free press and the rights of small media?

   Louis Charbonneau didn't respond to Inner City Press' May 21 e-mail inquiry.  Since Charbonneau on May 23 said that he has consciously not credited Inner City Press for more than a year -- without having told Inner City Press or, one wonders, his bosses at Reuters -- Inner City Press has asked Reuters for its crediting policies, and if Reuters stands behind Charbonneau's complaint against Inner City Press to the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which controls access to the UN.

   Inner City Press called public affairs, then London, then wrote directly to Greg McCune of Reuters "Ethics & Training," Top News Editor Walden Siew, deputy editor Paul Ingrassia and big cheese Stephen J. Adler, so far without any response at all (except Charbonneau saying on June 1, before he voted to investigate Inner City Press and sent out the selective minutes, "you are a bad person.")

  Now Inner City Press has written to them again about this, and to even better document another example of Reuters use of Inner City Press scoops without credit. In January of this year Inner City Press reported entirely exclusively on cocaine found in the UN mailroom, publishing the story -- -- then asking at a UN noon briefing, openly, citing the exclusive.

  Six hours later the UN held a stakeout explicitly to respond to Inner City Press' story. Reuters attended, and wrote a story with no credit:

  Is this Reuters policy? Again, Inner City Press has asked for an explanation, and that this retaliatory attack on Inner City Press led by Reuters UN bureau chief stop immediately.

  Since Charbonneau has emphasized that he was only one of three reporters and two editors on the (stolen?) story, Inner City Press has written to these others, including Arshad Mohammed, Vicki Allen, Eric Beech and the award winning Warren Strobel - all without response.

  Is it bad to seek credit for one's work, when a much larger competitor uses it without attribution? Here is the policy, not provided but available online, of "all Voice of America journalists" - they

"Adhere strictly to copyright laws and agency regulations and always credit the source when quoting, paraphrasing, or excerpting from other broadcasting organizations, books, periodicals or any print media."

Reuters and a number of the other complainants against Inner City Press do not adhere to this policy. Inner City Press, as simply one pertinent example, in January 2012 exclusively reported on cocaine found in the UN mail room.

   Then it asked at the noon briefing, triggering six hours later an appearance by UN Security chief Greg Starr. Off this, and with no credit to Inner City Press, Bloomberg, AFP and others who have complained now of Inner City Press wrote the cocaine story with no credit. Who's a "bad person" again?

   In context, this is an abuse of power by large media which stole a smaller competitor's exclusive and then, angry at being challenged, used a bureaucracy titularly led by a swan song jouranlist with his own axe to grind -- a desire to censor reporting that he took rent money from a UN official who began Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative -- to seek to expel the smaller competitor. Is this appropriate? Is this permitted by Reuters and the other large corporations involved?

The Voice of America policy goes on:

"In addition to these journalistic standards and principles, VOA employees recognize that their conduct both on and off the job can reflect on the work of the Voice of America community. They adhere to the highest standards of journalistic professionalism and integrity. They work to foster teamwork, goodwill, and civil discourse in the workplace and with their colleagues everywhere in the world."

This... is not being adhered to. Inner City Press has written a legal letter to the Board of Examination, among other things asking for a list of complaints, complainants and witnesses before the 10 day investigation begins, on June 8 or thereafter, and is awaiting response. Watch this site.

Update of 8:55 pm: as predicted, ten minutes after Inner City Press published the above, the link of the "UNCA" minutes was quickly switched from Reuters to "UNCA." The "re-send" even fixed the typos highlighted above, with the explanation "(Resending due to problems with the links to minutes of UNCA Executive Committee meetings)."  All this on an essential "State TV" channel that Inner City Press is not allowed to respond on.

But the proof is made: big media Reuters is behind this campaign to expel an independent media from which Reuters has stolen stories with no credit. Still no response from Greg McCune of Reuters "Ethics & Training," Top News Editor Walden Siew, deputy editor Paul Ingrassia and big cheese Stephen J. Adler, as to the mis-use of their media to try to expel the free Press. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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