UN Communications Budget Cuts to Lead in Staff Layoffs, Less Information

    The decision to slash the United Nations’ communications budget is expected to lead not only in staff layoffs, but also to less information coming from the world body.

    U.N.’s New York headquarters had already let go of seven of its broadcast staff, all of them engineers working for U.N. contractor Priority Production Services.

    The U.N. also declared it will shorten reports to save on printing and translation services. The new limit for each report issued by U.N. intergovernmental bodies is 10,700 words, while that for the U.N. Secretariat, which issues reports in the name of the secretary-general, is 8,500 words.

    Meanwhile, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said exchanges taking place at the sidelines during U.N. Security Council meetings might not always be captured by the media because the body might not have the capacity to provide a “boom mike” engineer in every meeting.

    The reduction on the number of press briefings from five to three, on the other hand, is said to be a temporary measure due to the low audience expected during the summer.

    The cuts in the world body’s communications budget are consistent with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s directive to have a 3-percent across-the-board cuts in the U.N. budget in March, which is expected to save $5.4 billion. Ban’s order is said to be a response to calls, mainly from the U.S. Congress, to minimize ‘waste.”

    The move comes amid accounts of inaccurate reports by its “humanitarian information and analysis” site, Relief-Web. These include the supposed death of a World Food Program official in West Darfur. While the WFP reportedly already denied the incident on Thursday, Aug. 11, the report was still posted on the site as of Monday, Aug. 15.

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    About the author

    • Che

      Che de los Reyes

      As a senior staff writer, Che focuses on international development breaking news coverage as well as interviews and features. Prior to joining Devex, Che handled communications for local and international development NGOs and government institutions in the Philippines.