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When UN's Dep't of Public Info Goes Private, All Bets Are Off for Reform

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 27 – The UN “Department of Public Information” needs to re-think the way it spreads information, or seeks to impede it.

   On February 22, DPI invited members of the Free UN Coalition for Access to a meeting, saying that a similar number of officials of the old UN Correspondents Association would attend.

    From the beginning FUNCA has made it clear that its all meetings it attends are on the record, particularly when with the UN Dept of PUBLIC Information.

   When the word “Public” is in the name of your agency, you should not assume that what you say is in fact private -- unless you explicitly say differently.

   And yet, DPI's Stephane Dujarric is now calls it “deeply disappointing” that Inner City Press reported on the meeting - even though, during the meeting, it said it would.

   Dujarric, in a letter he sent to Inner City Press past 6 pm on February 27, five days after the meeting and two days after the article was published, that “it was clearly understood by all sides that there would be no reporting or recording of the meeting.”

   This is a bizarre reconstruction of the past. It was and is not the understanding of Inner City Press or FUNCA -- nor even that expressed at the meeting by UNCA.

   The UNCA President, Pamela Falk of CBS, said during the meeting that Inner City Press would be reporting it.

    Nobody present contradicted her, including her first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, who went on to complain in the meeting about his inability in 2012 to censor Inner City Press' website. What's to be “deeply disappointed” about now?

Click here where Inner City Press says "you're on the record" and Pamela Falk of CBS, UNCA's President, says "he's going to write this up." Yes. But the letter of the UN's Dujarric, who was there, pretends this was never said.

   Dujarric's letter appears to be a setting up an excuse for him to stop dealing with FUNCA on sorely needed reforms. But FUNCA already told DPI it does not view Dujarric as the right interlocutor, given his role in accepting and even encouraging in 2012 requests by UNCA to dis-accredit the investigative Press.

  His latest letter is just another reminder of why.

   Dujarric himself, in DPI's last meeting just with FUNCA (before it invited UNCA in to vent) told Inner City Press it was free to tape record and publish. Note to Dujarric: if you try to change the rules, you have to announce it beforehand, not try to impose those changes retroactively.

  Now, going forward, we will run the clips of these previous meetings, for the UN's Department of Public (?) Information and its UN Censorship Alliance. Watch this site.

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