In response to a letter from a FAIR activist protesting the exclusion ofcommunity journalists from the IMF and World Bank's April meetings, IMFSenior Press Officer William Murray sent the following note:
"Thank you for your letter dated June 17, 2000 to Managing Director HorstKoehler regarding our press credential policy. Let me explain briefly whatthe IMF and World Bank policy is regarding press access at our regularSpring committee meetings.
"The IMF and World Bank do not accredit as journalists the representativesof public access television, student newspapers, publications of privateconsulting firms, or academic journals. This policy exists because of thedifficulty in establishing their credentials as professional journalists.
"The press also enjoys privileged access, which raises potential securityrisks and requires careful vetting of accreditation requests. Ouraccreditation policy is a standard arrangement for events that attract alarge number of journalists.
"The IMF and World Bank still accredited more than 2,200 journalists for theApril meetings, which is roughly four times the usual level of accreditationrequests we receive. Of the total accredited, 1,636 journalists from morethan 30 countries actually turned out, which is about three times thetypical number. We obviously are seeking to accredit as many professionaljournalists as possible, and to promote the broadest possible coverage forour 182 member nations.
"All press conferences are also transcribed immediately, and the transcriptsare posted on our Internet site (www.imf.org) for easy and timelypublic access. You should regularly visit the site.
"I hope this clarifies our actions. I assure you that the IMF and World Bankhave every reason to want informed public debate."
This explanation of the IMF's press policy leaves out a key category ofexclusion. Some of the journalists who were refused accreditation in Aprilreceived a message from the IMF Press Office (Mr. Murray's own department)stating that the institution does not accredit "public access TV, communityradio, nor student or academic publications."
The crucial category here, which Mr. Murray fails to address, is communityradio-- the major source of daily news that does not have a corporatefilter. It is particularly indefensible for the IMF to deny access tocommunity radio given that radio is the primary source of news in many ofthe developing countries that IMF/World Bank policy impacts most directly.
While the IMF phrases its exclusionary policy in terms of convenience andsecurity, it has the additional effect of marginalizing those outlets thatare most likely to view the IMF's proceedings with a critical eye.Expecting the public to visit the IMF's website regularly is hardly anadequate substitute for critical, independent reporting.
The IMF's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAIR's June 22 Action Alert, "Nader Left Out of Media Websites," incorrectlyreferred to the New York Times' "Political Navigator" pageas the New York Times/ABC News "Political Points" site. The confusion arosein part because the "Navigator" page is accessed through a link labeled"Political Points" on the New York Times index page.
At the time of our original alert, the Times' "Political Navigator" page didnot list Nader; it now does, as our June 30 Activism Update noted. The NewYork Times/ABC News "Political Points" page added Nader to its list of candidates before our alert.