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At UN, Press Move-Back Delayed by UNCA Big Media, Opposition Shouted Down, Decay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 15 – What was accomplished by the UN Correspondents Association in 2012, or in its annual general meeting on Friday?

  The move-back to the UN skyscraper, where Ban Ki-moon and major Departments are already was, was delayed once again, this time to May.

  This is due to broadcasters, who several sources in the meeting complained now want to use UNCA to collect and pass money to the UN for fibers.

  Wasn't UNCA supposed to be defending journalists -- rather than trying to get them thrown out -- and fighting for access?

 What about unfair and archaic accreditation rules, the lack of due process for journalists, lack of answers from the UN? These are not issued addresed by UNCA.

  Now UNCA has become a club run by the largest of media. It was typical that they continued their meeting even past 2:45 pm, when the UN Security Council held a meeting about Yemen.

  An hour after that, the UN announced that the move-back, already pushed from February to April, now goes into May, "to accommodate additional construction requested by broadcasters in their future space."

  How a few run UNCA was reflected in their December 2012 meeting, the last attended by Inner City Press, of which a video emerged, see here.

  Friday until leaving to cover the Council's Yemen session, Inner City Press and another co-founder of the Free UN Coalition for Access occupied a table -- sometimes used as a bar -- in front of the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

   Some UNCA members left, complaining that no written financials were provided and saying the meeting was bogged down on a single issue the sudden emergence of which they blamed on the UNCA Executive Committee's inattention or distraction in 2012.

   As noted, most UNCA meeting in that year were devoted to trying to censor then expel the investigative Press. Even this issue of the “fibers” and how to pay for them could have been addressed. Now everyone, including non-UNCA members, is adversely impacted.

  UNCA violated its Constitution by not holding elections before December 15, and by not holding the annual general meeting by January 15.

  Now what was called a Constitutional reform committee turns out, an attendee complained, to center around a lawyer found by a retired wire service reporter. This is reform? UNCA has decayed.

   The funniest or most cynical item on the agenda was the “Committee to Expand Social Media.”   This comes after the UNCA “leaders” have set up at least two anonymous social media accounts to try to undermine the new Free UN Coalition for Access as well as co-founder Inner City Press.

  This follows a year in which it was Voice of America, which said it had the support of Reuters' Louis Charbonneau and AFP's Tim Witcher, which made the June 20, 2012 request to UN official Stephane Dujarric to "review the accreditation" of Inner City Press. The UN has yet to state what it's rules for due process for journalists on such complaints.

  And while the above-linked documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act were sent in October 2012 to UNCA Executive Committee members for comment or explanation, none was provided.

   In the run-up to UNCA's Friday meeting, all of FUNCA's flyers calling for reforms were taken down, inlcuding those between UNCA's glassed in bulletin board and the enclosed office of this year's UNCA President Pamela Falk of CBS.

   Meanwhile the head of DPI earlier on Friday genially told FUNCA that there is good news coming.  We are always open. “Separate but equal” didn't work, however, under Jim Crow in the American South, and we don't think it will work in the UN. Watch this site.

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