The Press Corps
The Press Corps of the Montessori Model United Nations is composed of reporters, each of whom represents a news agency. Rather than representing countries in negotiations as delegates do, these reporters take on the unique task of summarizing and disseminating news of the happenings of the conference. Through the conference blog and a number of other mediums, reporters play a vital role in our simulation of the United Nations, just as the press is crucial to the success of the organization in practice.
As an inter-governmental organization, the UN itself serves as a platform for discussion between the nations of the world and their respective societies. It moreover promotes and facilitates cooperative ventures—most notably to secure international peace, such as in peacekeeping interventions, but also deals with a number of other causes too–like environmental protection and economic development. Speaking more broadly, the press serves to familiarize the public with the proceedings and initiatives of the United Nations, facilitating interaction between communities and their representatives on a variety of issues. For some elements of the United Nations, such as the Situation in North Korea, the Rwandan Genocide, and other events (past and present), this coverage is especially crucial.
The press also encourages transparency and serves as a platform for discussion. For one, it is a key component of accountability. Delegates at the UN are supposed to represent the opinions and interests of their countries and its citizens, and the reporting of the press corps allows the general public to check on their representatives and exercise influence on them as necessary. Additionally, media organizations can magnify the voice of underrepresented or oppressed groups, such as minorities, by providing them with a platform to speak. Through investigative journalism, a kind of reporting intended to expose new details on important issues, media organizations can spotlight issues that might otherwise be overlooked.
Finally, given the vital role of the press in the work of the United Nations, the freedom of the press is a necessary civil liberty. Without widespread respect for this freedom, the work of the press becomes far more difficult.
This committee at MMUN 2017 will be different than other committees at this conference. The reporters will be interacting in seminars. In those there will be formal speeches and discussions, but there won’t actually be formal consultations.
The specifics are as follow:
- Field investigation is when a reporter motions for an extended, unmoderated caucus for the sole purpose of field reporting (There are also unmoderated caucuses in the Press Corps to write and debate on the informal level).
- Field investigation is meant to:
- Find out more about the specifics of the committee’s topic and what topics countries are discussing.
- See what different countries believe should be done, what their policies are and what are the main opposing viewpoints.
- Conduct interviews with countries or the Bureau regarding countries’ viewpoints, possible solutions and to gauge whether representatives are for or against such suggested solutions.
- Write the Working Paper(s) and cover the differences and similarities being debated and delineate what the committee is doing to move forward on the topics under discussion.
- Reporters will be able to submit blurbs and articles to the Editors.
- Since there are so many reporters, more than one reporter can conduct research and write on the same committee or issue.
- All reporters should keep in mind that, if they find a story with a lot of information to cover, one that is crucial to MMUN and highly debated, consider it for inclusion in the newspaper.
History and Background on the Press Corps in the UN
The United Nations Correspondents Association:
In order to most effectively work fulfill this committee’s ultimate aim of providing objective and continuous coverage of the United Nations, a number of media outlets banded together to form the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA). The UNCA has officially represented the Press Corps, an extension of the UN, since 1995 and unofficially since its founding in 1948. It plays a key role in ensuring that the Press Corps—the most accessible news agency for the 6.9 billion people of the world, comprised of almost 200 journalists from dozens of countries and several publications, broadcasters and news agencies—has the resources it needs to do its job.
More importantly, the UNCA represents reporters in discussions with the United Nations Secretariat in order to resolve global issues. These journalists cover events that occur throughout the United Nations’ numerous organs and committees, and participate in press conferences with UN officials and diplomats, transcribing all of this information into a concise format for readers. Despite the many obstacles and risks, the Press Corps steps up to fill that essential role as the liaison between the public and the United Nations. Within MMUN, reporters will be responsible for representing the UNCA.
Remaining an Agency without bias
There are many different sources of information available from the international community. It is natural that reporters cover issues that are relevant to the nation and audience that views their media, however it is not justified to use significant bias in their writing. What this means is that although a reporter is not obligated to cover certain stories, as some news sources are clearly publishing propaganda according to the opinions of us in the West, but if reporters do choose to cover a story, they should with full integrity and free of bias.
The Process of Covering Stories
The first step in pre-conference preparation is studying your own news source. Familiarize yourself with the viewership, the global perception of your news organization, past major stories that have been award-winning or notable and whether your news organization is a member of a coalition of news sources (such as the Associated Press or the UNAC).
The Bureau asks reporters to generally familiarize themselves with all of MMUN’s committees, then concentrate on those that touch most closely upon your organization’s policies and special areas of interest (economics, politics, social issues, etc.). Once the reporters have a certain bloc of committees that fit their requirements and offer the richest sources of information, then in-depth research on the issues should begin.
In lieu of writing a Position Paper, reporters are tasked with writing an Editorial of one page, single-spaced, using 11 point Times New Roman font. This Editorial will be in the style and with the perspective of your publication (therefore reporters should use the third person when writing). This should be based on the reporter’s knowledge of your own publication and the topics your news organization would choose to focus on, aimed at the already established viewers/readers of the news organization. This should demonstrate in-depth research on the topics and show knowledge of the viewers and publication for which the reporter is writing.
The Editorials can cover two topics of your choice. One must come from Topic A and the other from Topic B.
Press Corps During the Conference:
The Committee will start with introductions and Article Proposals. These Proposals will require you to restate which committees/topics you would like to cover for the first day, what a possible thesis will be and what you expect to find in your research.
After the completion of the Proposals, there will be a period to go out into the field and observe committees in action.
If you plan to quote a speech—a highly recommended practice—make sure that you note down the quote exactly, as misquoting is highly unprofessional and can distort the intended meaning, and offend the country that the delegate is representing.
You may also request interviews with delegates, but you must always request permission from the Bureau in advance. The one exception to this rule is when the delegates are in an unmoderated caucus, in which case you may simply ask permission from the delegate in question. You must still inform the Bureau that you are reporting on the delegate’s committee however.
Once a reporter has gathered all of the possible information and research for an article, you will then prepare an article. Although there aren’t any word limits, 600-800 words will suffice. The Bureau will assist in the writing process and allow for more field time if necessary.
Once a member of the Bureau has reviewed your article, it will be sent back to the reporter with comments. The editor may attach a note instructing a reporter to approach once you receive the revised version in order to discuss it further. If there are only a few changes to be made, the reporter may review those changes and adjust accordingly before sending in a final copy. Once the final is finished, a member of the Bureau will type the article and place it in the newspaper’s template. Then, if time allows, the article should be read to the committee for transparency purposes. The goal is that even if a reporter is writing an article, they will be able to do so in a time frame that they can still do plenty of field reporting and writing throughout the conference. Although it is not required, reporters who would like to spend lunch or dinner to finish writing are more than welcome to, and this would allow them to jump back into the debating and field reporting as soon as possible, and minimize the amount of committee time spent writing.