July 5, 2014 — With the top spot in the UN Department of Public Information not yet filled, but input yet to be sought from journalists who cover the UN, it’s a time to revisit the basics including the minimum that the press and public should be able to expect from the UN.
The Office of the Spokesperson shouldn’t give false or misleading information, and if it has, it should correct it, including directly to the journalist(s) to which the false or misleading information was given. Recently, this has not been the case.
The UN’s Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, and the spokespeople responsible for giving MALU information should ensure that the media is informed, in advance, of “press encounters” of the Secretary General and other senior officials. This didn’t occur in the case of the S-G’s “press encounter” with Shimon Peres.
When questions are put to the Office of the Spokesperson, that Office should at least ask the relevant UN departments or affiliates for answers, and should provide the answers to the media that asked the question, not selectively to others as occurred in the case of the denial that the S-G received alongside his Asia Society speech legal papers for the introduction of cholera into Haiti.
An even handed and transparent policy of when and for whom the noon briefing will be delayed or postponed should be arrived at – after comment from impacted media. This same should apply to the (pre) release of reports of the S-G. The Free UN Coalition for Access will continue to pursue these issues – watch this space.