Beyond the physical access issues of no work table at the Security Council stakeout, no chairs in the media booths over the General Assembly and UN conference rooms, there is another problem. The UN increasingly denies access or the right to question to the independent press, relying instead on its own in-house media much as one-party states have.
Two members of the Free UN Coalition for Access went to cover an event listed in the Media Alert. Once there, they were told only UN Photo could go in, and “what difference does it make?”
It makes a difference.
As those who cover the US White House said last week, officials “are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government… The right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials.”
Things are worse at the UN than the White House, as the UN has high officials who refuses to answer particularly media’s questions and rarely hold stakeouts of any kind; the UN makes some officials only available to its own UN News Centre (to which a question about Haiti cholera was referred last week.)
Why hasn’t this trend yet been more widely opposed inside the UN? Why are first questions at press conferences reserved? These may be related. FUNCA is protesting this.
Last week at the UNSC stakeout a foreign minister demanded of a correspondent, Where are you from, then made assumptions on camera about the reporters views, didn’t answer his question. FUNCA opposes this, just as it questioned DPI after France was allowed to mark many seats in the “UN” Press Briefing Room “Reserved” during its General Debate week presidential briefing.
Also, FUNCA supports a request recently made, open-source, for chairs in the media booths of the General Assembly and UN conference rooms. We’ll have more on this. Watch this site.