Problems of lack of access, for example the two-question press “encounter” of Ban Ki-moon last week, of bad working conditions and even of attempts to censor or undermine probing questions & coverage remain problems as we enter September.
On September 3, the noon briefing was canceled in favor of a Ban press encounter in which only two questions were allowed. Reasonable requests by the Free UN Coalition for Access for a normal noon briefing, or more questions, were rejected. The excuse given was Ban was on his way to an airplane, as usual. But when have there not been more sit-down press conferences with Ban? And if only two questions, why cancel the noon briefing on other topics?
At the Security Council stakeout, correspondents are now being excluded from the space between the steps and the Turkish Lounge, even from charging their laptops there. Meanwhile there are almost no electrical outlets at the stakeout. This must be explained, and improve. Likewise, there must be media seats in the GA for General Debate week. FUNCA was told by a DGACM official it would happen, then later, that DPI did NOT want it to happen. This must be explained.
At the September 4 noon briefing, a questioner was cut off by another correspondent, who then demanded of the associate spokesperson to know what media the questioner worked for. This is unacceptable censorship, as are the anonymous social media trolling and now counterfeiting begun by board members of the Association that does not want its name used. One of the counterfeit accounts uses without permission the work of one of FUNCA’s co-founders. We’ll have more on this.
Correspondents who have had their office space taken away and downgraded to a Green P pass are being blocked from re-entering the UN after “business hours,” even if their laptops are inside. This is unacceptable, must be clarified before General Debate week. The UN can and must do better, including on access. Watch this space.