2017 Fellows Report from UN Headquarters

New York, 15 September 2017 — This month, the Department of Public Information (DPI) is hosting 15 young journalists from around the world at UN Headquarters for the Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship. The annual programme brings reporters between the ages of 22 and 35 from developing countries (and those with economies in transition) to New York for the opening of the General Assembly.

The fellows began their UN tour with an introduction to the UN Correspondents Association, where they had a candid conversation about what it is like to report on the UN, and received a few practical tips to help them hit the ground running—which they did!

On their first day (11 September), many fellows joined the Security Council stakeout to cover that body’s decision to impose new sanctions on the DPRK. The next day, several filed stories in their home countries on the UN’s response to the crisis in Myanmar.

In addition to reporting on press events, the fellows attended private briefings on issues before the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions, among others.

Crowning their first week was a meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres. They had the chance to ask him to comment on the burning issues in their countries, such as the drug war in the Philippines, ethnic violence in Myanmar and the effectiveness of General Assembly resolutions.

“You might get the impression that the UN is a talkshop,” Mr. Guterres told them. “Don’t get negatively impressed with the talkshop because it has value in itself… In a world in which the problems are more and more global and in which sometimes there is this tension of isolationism, I am a true believer that only with multilateral approaches we can solve problems.”

The fellows were impressed by Mr. Guterres’ openness and approachability.

“How many times in your life can you shake the hand of the Secretary-General and then make him comment on the most pressing issue in your country?” said Mike Navallo (Philippines). “It really inspires me to keep being a journalist.”

The fellows will spend a total of three weeks at Headquarters, during which time they will cover the General Debate and high-level meetings of the General Assembly. Ultimately, they will bring the experiences and insights gained from their time at the United Nations back home, where it will continue to inform their reporting.