United Nations Journalist ‘Training Program’ Will Pay News Outlets $25,000 To $100,000 To Cover Agenda

The United Nations has rolled out a journalist training program in a bid to increase media coverage of the organization’s controversial global agenda. The efforts were designed to increase public interest and media attention to the U.N.’s national “post-2015 development process” by paying news outlets $25,000 to $100,000 to attend the training sessions. However, many are noting that the step could be viewed as a way to buy positive media coverage.

Fox News reports that the United Nations has big plans to encourage journalists to cover the organization’s plans to establish a global social and environmental agenda within the next 15 years. The U.N. notes that many journalists get bogged down with writing about the agenda because U.N. meetings can be long and filled with all sorts of acronyms and jargon that can make it hard to understand for the journalistic listener. Therefore, Monique Villa, head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, says that they back the organization’s hopes to use paid “training” opportunities to educate the media and make the jargon easier to understand.

“Very often the problem of the UN is that the speeches long, full of acronyms, and the jargon is difficult to understand. Making the jargon of the U.N. understandable is quite important.”

However, many have raised concerns that by offering stipends of $25,000 to $100,000 for news outlets to come to a U.N. training that it could be viewed as buying good press. However, the U.N. says that they are not buying positive coverage, as the media will have full control of the content according to a spokesperson speaking with Fox News.

“[G]rants [are] designed to enhance the capacity of media organizations to partner on these issues. Full editorial control of content remains with the media outlet.”

The training will focus on the United Nation’s “Universal Sustainable Development Goals” which include 17 major goals and 169 related targets. These targets include a variety of goals from ending “poverty in all its forms everywhere” to reducing “inequality within and among countries.” Here are some of the target goals presented in the SDG agenda overview.

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  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  • Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  • Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  • Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The training sessions for journalists will take place in Los Angeles and New York and will begin with 15 carefully selected media outlets. The plan is to begin the training on May 25 and to select more news outlets in June.

What do you think of the United Nations paying journalists to attend special training programs for the SDG agenda? Do you think this will hurt unbias reporting as the reporters will rely more heavily on the information provided in the U.N.-funded training?

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