Event at U.N. Touting Press Freedom Was Barred to the Press

Reuters/Brendan McDermid
Reuters/Brendan McDermid

An event held at the United Nations, aimed at exploring the topic of press freedom, had everything going for it but members of the press. As it happens, the event was ironically closed to the press by UN security.

The event sponsored by PEN International—a group once named “Poets, Essayists and Novelists” and concerned with journalism and press freedom—was titled, “Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights.”

PEN’s event was set to mark World Press Freedom Day and was described as an opportunity to gain an insider’s view of international efforts to promote freedom of the press and to end impunity for crimes against journalists. The event was to feature experts who would offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media, and address cybersecurity risks.

But when some journalists not already involved in sponsoring the event contacted PEN to get into the event, they were told that UN security had closed the event to the press unless they already had a UN press pass.

When quizzed on the odd situation, representatives of PEN claimed that they were unaware that the UN would bar members of the press from attending their press freedom event.

A reporter from Observer was blithely told by a PEN representative, “it does seem extremely odd to be keeping press out of the event.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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