Monday, August 6, 2018

"The intrepid reporter who got expelled from the UN"

We are fans of Inner City Press. How's this "About Us" grab you:
Inner City Press, headquartered in the South Bronx of New York City, engages in investigations and journalism regarding human rights, transparency, corporate accountability, community reinvestment, predatory lending, environmental justice, fair housing, social exclusion and related topics. Inner City Press covers (and where applicable is accredited media at) the United Nations, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, banking and insurance regulatory agencies, the Federal Communications Commission, and various courts.
Covering central banking, UN geopolitics and The Bronx, NYC.
Links below.

From the Columbia Journalism Review:
Last March, Matthew Lee, an independent reporter, trained his phone’s camera on the 36th floor of the United Nations Secretariat Building. For more than a decade, Lee has been covering every inch of the UN for his self-made blog, Inner City Press, read widely by journalists on the diplomacy beat—if sometimes skeptically. “Matt plays an important role in being a gadfly,” a member of the UN press corps says. “Everyone thinks he’s nuts, but everyone reads him,” says another. Lee, who is 52, posts as many as 10 articles a day; favorite subjects are whether António Guterres, the secretary-general, is corrupt (“His wife still lives in Portugal. Who’s paying for his trips back home? He’s on vacation right now, where is he?”), and the integrity of Alison Smale, a former journalist now working for the UN’s department of public information (“She’s only interested in press that makes the UN look good”). Lee sees UN misdeeds “almost everywhere.”

On that spring day, Guterres had declared that the UN would participate in Earth Hour, an annual initiative to turn off non-essential electric lights from 8:30 to 9:30pm. But Lee noticed that someone’s corner office was illuminated. With his camera streaming via Periscope, he kept watch. “This is just the superficiality,” he said. “The problem is, the UN doesn’t live up to its principles.” Next, he checked the Malaysian mission—lights on there, too. “All right, we’re going to head up First Avenue,” he said. He hopped on his bike and rode north. “Look at the flags, and now beyond the flags, look at the hypocrisy. Fraud, fraud, fraud.” Turning onto Sutton Place, he stopped in front of the secretary-general’s house. A few lights were lit on the ground floor. “A $15 million mansion owned by the UN,” he said. “There is no Earth Hour at Casa Guterres.”

More than a year later, Lee, in gray slacks and a blue button-down, was working from a bus stop outside the delegates’ entrance to the UN. Ever-determined to get his story, tensions with the secretary-general’s office had escalated. First, Lee had been caught in an interpretation booth at the back of a meeting room. (Lee says he wasn’t hiding, he had retreated there to stream a conference that he should have been invited to.) Then, early this month, he’d been busted for “staking out” a budget meeting. Guards handled him forcibly enough to injure his arm, tear his shirt, and break keys off his laptop, Lee says. (He still has the shirt; the largest rip, at the neck, is several inches across.) The UN stripped his credentials, and for weeks, he’s been waiting to hear about his request to get them back—dashing off questions to delegates all the while, at least five a day for the noon briefing.

Lee leaned over his laptop screen, squinting through the glare of the sun. Just as he finished an email to Stéphane Dujarric, the secretary-general’s spokesperson, he got lucky. Lee had been relying on free WiFi from passing busses—somehow, it works—and the M15 pulled up. “It seems like I have a wisp of internet here,” he said. “My wheel is spinning.” Two elderly women struggled to climb aboard; a leg of a walker got caught on a step. The extra moment rocketed Lee’s email over the gates and into the fortress of the UN.

The exact circumstances of Lee’s expulsion are murky. “Just like the White House, access is not a right, it’s a privilege,” Dujarric says. “None of this is happening now because of what he writes.” Dujarric says that Lee is often critical of fellow journalists; walking the halls in the evenings, he’ll live-stream running commentary criticizing other reporters. Not long ago, encountering a crew from Al Jazeera—which Lee believes has misled viewers about its connection to the Qatari government—Dujarric says that Lee Periscoped while shouting, “Fuck you!” repeatedly. (Lee says he was complaining that Dujarric had given the Al Jazeera crew a private interview, and excluded him.) “He creates an atmosphere of incivility within our working environment,” Dujarric says....MUCH MORE
From 2007's   From "How to do Journalism":
...The press conference was scheduled to coincide with the UN's daily noon briefing, thereby excluding most UN correspondents, and its locale was outside the UN, at the Inter-Continental Hotel on 48th Street and Lexington Avenue, seven blocks from UNDP. Nevertheless, Inner City Press ran to the UNDP briefing immediately after the noon briefing. Source

..."Rwanda has emerged," President Kagame told the two reporters on Thursday night, as an example for all of Africa. The duo thanked him for this time, and he proceeded north along the UN's second floor, with an entourage of six.

This method of interviewing was perfected this week by radio journalist Bessan Vikou of BBC Afrique. Vikou, as he is known, tells Inner City Press that in the first three days of the current General Debate, he has interviewed eight heads of state as they descended from meeting with Ban Ki-moon on the 38th floor. "It would have been nine if I had gotten Kabila," president of the DRC, Vikou said. "They get off on the second floor and there's no where they can go. I tell them 'BBC! BBC!' and they almost always stop. It is even more likely when I am with another journalist, like now." Source
Ya gotta love it.

And speaking of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2008's  "UN's Congo Envoy Speaks of Disarmament and Trains, No Comment on China Resource Deals" recounted the above after:
I love Inner City Press.*
From ICP:

We're not leaving the Congo any time soon, the UN's top envoy to Kinshasa, Alan Doss, told the press on Tuesday....

...Doss said he served twenty years ago as the UN Development Program resident representative in the Congo; he spoke nostalgically about the train service at that time, which is now intermittent at best. Asked about a pending deal between China and Kinshasa, to build road in exchange for resources, Doss said he hadn't heard about it.
"It's on BBC," Inner City Press pointed out.
One day's scoopage from "Journalists I Respect: Inner City Press; Your Go-to for U.N. Carbon Offsets News":
Their juxtaposition of investigative financial journalism and local news just tickles me: 
7/30/07 --
Bank Beat: Challenge to Royal Bank of Scotland / Santander / Fortis application for ABN Amro.
CRA: How many fair lending referrals?
Will Federal Reserve take note of Santander's dealings with sanctioned Sepah?
UN - Global: UN Mulls Banning Bloggers, Leaked Minutes Reveal, Fearing Coverage Not Easily Controlled.
Enviro: Wicheta toxins, Belarus' gas bill.
Bronx: Tattoo parlor opens, bike shop shuts down.

Sorry about the long intro. but I love these guys. Here's the carbon offset story:....
And here is Inner City Press