November 14, 2014

The World Health Organization has “never blocked or banned anyone from joining our media list,” its spokesperson Fadéla Chaib told Poynter.

The time element of that statement is a bit hard to square with what BuzzFeed foreign editor Miriam Elder told Poynter after I asked her for comment on it: “I spoke to WHO this morning and they’ve agreed to work with us again,” she wrote.

A little background: As Brian Ries reported for Mashable, WHO staffer Laura Bellinger said she didn’t reply to BuzzFeed reporter Tasneem Nashrulla’s request to get on WHO’s media list because “My understanding is that BuzzFeed is banned.”

Not so, said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic in another email Ries obtained: BuzzFeed as a whole isn’t banned, just its reporter Jina Moore, who has been reporting on Ebola from West Africa. Moore “on two occasions reported inaccurately and when in Liberia she was trying to enter WHO/MoH meetings without permit.”

Jasarevic also says WHO communications director Christy Feig contacted Elder, to tell her WHO would no longer “deal” with Moore. (Feig tweeted points similar to Chaib’s on Friday. Chaib hasn’t replied to an email and a phone call asking about the distinction between getting on the media list and dealing with a reporter; Jasarevic never replied to a request from Poynter.)

Chaib said seven BuzzFeed reporters get WHO’s updates.

“WHO welcomes any journalists who are interested in receiving updates about the Organization’s work,” Chaib said. Moore, Chaib said, is among them.

Elder confirmed Moore is back in WHO’s good graces.

“We’re really happy that Jina and our whole team will be able to continue doing their great reporting with the full cooperation of the whole WHO office,” she said. “Also happy to put the attention back on reporting the Ebola crisis, which is where it belongs.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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