With 6 news networks and backing for more creative forms of expression such as photojournalism, info-graphics and satirical comic strips, the Press Corps 2017 promises the most authentic journalistic experience in the history of NTUMUN.
UN Press Officers will be conferred the all-important responsibility of releasing statements from NTUMUN and interviewing the Chairs of the various councils. Opinion from the West, Middle East, and Asia Pacific will be expressed by delegates from the Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Reuters, Sputnik and Xin Hua News Agency respectively.
The Agence France-Presse, or AFP as it is better known, is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 by Charles Havas, it is the world’s first international news agency; utilizing a network of correspondents and translators. The Agence French- Presse currently has a network of some 200 bureaus in 150 countries, cementing its position as one of the most interconnected news networks in the world. Recently, it made headlines by opening a bureau in North Korea, Pyongyang, making it one of a mere handful of foreign media organizations who were allowed to have a presence in one of the world’s most obscure states. However, the AFP tends to focus on France-centric issues and the French-speaking segments of the world. Thus, some perceive it as having a certain bias vis-à- vis policies which favour the abovementioned. It is also limited with regards to its presence on social media, as compared to other Western Networks, with its English services limited in comparison to its French arm.
The Al Jazeera is a news organization directly funded by the Qatar government, with its headquarters being in Doha. Al Jazeera is Arabic for “The Peninsula”, and it was founded in 1996 – initially being an Arabic news and satellite TV channel which broadcasted six hours a day in Arabic from Qatar. Its fame now transcends the likes of the Arab world, with it expanding to a network with different arms, including its social media wing and multiplicity of television channels broadcasted in different languages. Despite this, Al Jazeera is often criticized for having overtly Islamist perspectives in its news coverage, giving airtime to the Muslim Brotherhood, amongst other featured guests with similarly schismatic and reactionary perspectives. Some in Washington have even gone so far as to accuse Al Jazeera of supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, although analysts and Arab diplomats maintain that such accusations are without grounds thus far.
The New York Times is an American news agency, founded on September 18th, 1951 by The New York Times Company. It has won 119 Pulitzer Prizes since 1918, one of the most prestigious awards that can be awarded to journalism. The New York Times is renowned for articles such as “A Mob Killing and Flawed Justice”, which covered the horrific death of a young Afghan girl who was beaten by a mob, being falsely accused of burning the Quran. Impartial coverage of the news is central to this news agency – “without fear or favour” -, in the words of its founder, Adolph Ochs. Besides impartiality, The New York Times is also known for the avoidance of conflict of interests (within its staff), as well paramount importance accorded to the integrity and accuracy of every article produced. A UCLA study done in 2004 gave The New York Times a score on 73.7 on a 100 point scale, with 0 being most conservative, and 100 being most liberal, leading most people to believe that The New York Times has a mostly liberal stance.
Reuters is an international news agency which has its headquarters in England. It was founded in 1951 by Paul Julius Reuter, who established his news services in London in 1851, utilizing telegraph cables and carrier pigeons. Until 2008, it was part of an independent company which also served as a provider of financial market data. Reuters covers over 200 locations daily, with its mission statement asserting that Reuters aims to “preserve independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in the gathering, and dissemination of information and news.” However, Reuters has been criticized for its “value-neutral approach”, which extended to it not using the term “terrorist” in its news articles until recently. Reuters also drew flak for its reports on climate change in 2012, with Paul Ingrassia, the then deputy editor-in- chief stating that he was a climate change sceptic, resulting in a 48% decline in climate-change coverage over a six-month period after Ingrassia joined Reuters. Nonetheless, apart from these instances, Reuters is still considered reliable by those in the field.
Sputnik is an online news network and media organization launched by the state-owned Rossia Segodnya on 10 November 2014, being headquartered in Moscow currently. Its head, Dimitry Kiselyov said during its opening that Sputnik was created with the intent of competing with the “aggressive propaganda” perpetuated by Western media outlets, and that Sputnik will “provide an alternative interpretation of the world”. However, Sputnik has come under increased scrutiny over its perceived lack of editorial balance, amidst further criticisms that it has used disinformation to counter and divide the West. Experts have said that dezinformatsiya, or Russian disinformation, is a carefully calculated attempt to undermine the official version of events, thereby obfuscating the notion that a true version of events exists in actuality. An instance of such disinformation could be the confusing range of theories presented over the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shrouding the actual truth that poorly trained insurgents had accidentally downed the plane with a Russian-supplied missile. The Kremlin have thus far denied these allegations, stating that Western news agencies were themselves biased in covering news, and “Russophobic” themselves.
Xinhua News Agency, also known as the New China News Agency, was founded in 1931 as the press outlet of the China Communist Party. It was initially set up in the Red-Army-controlled area in the Jiangxi province and is currently headquartered in Beijing, having over 170 bureaus worldwide. One of its prominent arms includes its online news provider, Xinhuanet, which serves as an important information organ of the central government, established in 1997. One of its main tenets is to create a good perception of China abroad, although it is widely known that it also operates several major government-run sites, including the Chinese Government Website(gov.cn). Its current president, Cai Mingzhao, was the previous director of the Information Office of the State Council in 2013, showing that the Xinhua News Agency has overt ties with the China Communist Party. As such, this could possibly undermine the impartiality and accuracy of its news reports in favour of state interests. Evidence that Xinhua News Agency had classified news which it withheld from public consumption can also be seen as far back as 2003, when Xinhua’s first SARS report was only released on 9th February after 300 cases and five deaths dating back to November 2002 had occurred.