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PassBlue is an independent, women-led digital publication offering in-depth journalism on the US-UN relationship as well as women’s issues, human rights, peacekeeping and other urgent global matters, reported from our base in the UN press corps. Founded in 2011, PassBlue is a project of the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs in New York and not tied financially or otherwise to the UN; previously, it was housed at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. PassBlue is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.
STAFF AND REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS:
PassBlue’s editor in chief, Dulcie Leimbach, worked for more than 20 years as an editor and writer for The New York Times, including editing for various news desks, the Sunday Magazine and the editorial page. Her journalism career began at The Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
Barbara Crossette, PassBlue’s senior consulting editor, was UN bureau chief for The New York Times from 1994-2001 and a chief correspondent in Southeast Asia and South Asia in a career spanning decades for the newspaper.
Laura Kirkpatrick, a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, is a senior editor responsible for social media and audience development and a writer.
Susan Manuel, a former UN peacekeeping communications expert and journalist in Hawaii and Nevada, is a senior writer.
Kacie Candela, a part-time, award-winning reporter for WFUV Radio at Fordham University, is an assistant editor who writes articles and produces original podcasts.
John Penney is the IT editor and a commercial photographer.
MISSION: PassBlue’s overall mission is to educate the American and the wider public on the fundamental role of the US to the UN and how the UN works — its successes and failures — through high-quality reporting by writers throughout the world. We are one of the few English-language media sites dedicated to providing broad coverage, analysis and investigations on the UN.
PRAISE FOR PASSBLUE:
• Melanne Verveer, a US ambassador at large for global women’s issues under President Obama and executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, said: “PassBlue provides essential coverage of the US-UN relationship, with a strong focus on women’s issues. Their timely reporting is an important resource for anyone working in global affairs.”
• A South American diplomat called PassBlue an “insightful niche publication” covering topics on the UN that mainstream media overlook.
•A professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs said of PassBlue: “I find this material so valuable in my work (teaching and writing about gender and development for undergrads and graduate students). I’ve recommended that my students all sign up. This is unique coverage that is available nowhere else.”
• Marissa Conway, a co-founder of a new blog, Feminist Foreign Policy, said of the writeup PassBlue published on her enterprise: “I credit much of the positive support we’ve received so early on to your article.”
FINANCING: As philanthropic journalism, PassBlue is financed primarily through the Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional grants from the Samuel Rubin Foundation, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and donations from individual readers, who we count on to help cover our expenses. We also generate revenue through advertising from publishers, think tanks and academic-based programs. To make a tax-deductible donation, visit our donate page. All contributions go to pay such expenses as writers’ fees. We have no overhead and the New School does not assess a fee on individual donations. To mail a check, send it to PassBlue, P.O. Box 23166, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11202.
BOARD AND SPEAKERS’ BUREAU: Our advisory board consists of academics, journalists and policy experts on the topics we cover: Irwin Arieff, Alison Gardy, Jeff Laurenti, Susan Manuel, Joanne Myers, Bill Orme and Anne Marie Riccitelli. Our board members are available as part of our speakers’ bureau on women’s rights, the UN and foreign affairs. (To inquire, please send an email to email@example.com.)
THE UN: The United Nations was founded in 1945 to maintain international peace and security, and the United States is by far the biggest financial contributor to its operating and peacekeeping budgets. Yet at its core the UN is a political institution, now made up of 193 member nations, and UN staff often work in hot spots, which invariably leads to controversy and sometimes flawed operations.
COVERAGE: PassBlue clears the air by reporting on how the UN deals with the most urgent problems plaguing the world today. Our well-written articles, op-eds and short videos have pushed the UN to increased transparency and accountability. We are read by influential people across the world, with most of our readers based in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Delhi, Lahore, Geneva, Nairobi, Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and Manila. Our subscribers include foreign affairs specialists, diplomats, academics, UN staffers, development experts, journalists and students. The largest demographic is 18-34 years old.
Our most-influential reporting in 2017:
- In mid-2017, we introduced a regular new column, called Nikki Haley Watch, to cover the actions and remarks of the US ambassador and their implications. It has proven to be a much-needed resource, as no one covers her role at the UN closely. The goal is to track the immediate and long-term changes that the Trump administration and Ambassador Haley have pledged and are actually making to the UN. This coverage includes speeches by Haley in various venues; steps by the Trump administration and Congress on US budgets to the UN; US budget actions on UN peacekeeping; and how UN Secretary-General António Guterres relates to the US administration.
- We were the only media site covering the UN to begin writing about the lack of gender parity in the uppermost levels of the UN Secretariat. Our concerted coverage on gender equality began in 2011 by looking at the rate of women being hired for top jobs at the UN. Our reporting has resulted in more public awareness of the problem and became a main topic posed to candidates who were running for the Secretary-General post in 2016. In Guterres’s first year in office, he achieved his pledge of parity in the upper ranks of the UN.
- An article by Rico Carisch, a UN sanctions expert, questioned why circumstantial evidence from a UN report was being used by the US to accuse Iran of supplying weapons to rebels in Yemen that were fired into Saudi Arabia. Carisch pointed out that The Washington Post and The New York Times repeated the US claims and ignored the lack of substantiated evidence to do so. After our article was published, Agence France-Presse began to question the evidence as well. Russia and China, on the Security Council, also questioned the methodology done in the report, leading to Russia later vetoing a resolution tying Iran to the missiles shot into Saudi territory.
- An op-ed by two New York City College of Technology math professors proposed that the UN partner with them and their students to promote the Sustainable Development Goal on education. The essay resulted in promising steps: Unesco sent a representative from Geneva to the college for a presentation on the agency’s work on education. The presentation also featured the collegs’s first youth global ambassador, a Bangladeshi-born student.
Top stories in 2017 revolved primarily around the new relationship of the Trump White House toward the UN; Secretary-General Guterres; peacekeeping problems and reforms; and women’s rights. These included:
Top influences in 2016:
• PassBlue extensively covered the new UN process to select the next secretary-general, with particular attention paid to the female candidates. The reporting included a scoop on a new candidate, Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria and a European Union executive, throwing her hat in the ring. The article caused an immediate stir in the UN and in Europe, where it was cited by government officials in Bulgaria’s capital and led to Russia publicly chastising Germany for its role in promoting Georgieva;
• an exclusive report on the new UN Syria Women’s Advisory Board and its participation in UN-led peace talks in Geneva. The article included an interview with Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, and is the only long-form article on the board;
• first to report on Twitter, followed by a thorough article, on a UN-led petition to remove the UN’s designation of Wonder Women as an empowerment symbol of women and girls. The cartoon figure was soon dropped by the UN.
Top influences in 2015:
• PassBlue broke news by reporting on the UN’s contentious decision not to use the word “prostitution” in its work on women’s rights, leading the UN Women entity to reconsider such language;
• on no-shows by US Ambassador Samantha Power at UN-based media briefings resulted in her appearance before the media at the UN within days;
• on the record number of deaths of peacekeepers in the UN mission in Mali, leading major publications to begin citing the problem;
• on how Buffalo, N.Y., offered comprehensive programs to refugees arriving in its city, a story that spurred the US State Department to head up a visit by an international reporting contingent to the city.
In addition to our core staff, our articles and essays are produced by such journalists and UN specialists as Thomas G. Weiss, an international scholar on the UN and Presidential Professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center; Shazia Rafi, former secretary-general of Parliamentarians for Global Action; Joanne Myers, director of the Public Affairs Programs for the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; Bill Orme, a journalist who contributed to the UN’s human development reports and reported for The Los Angeles Times; Helmut Volger, the editor of A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations and German commentator on the UN; and Joseph Chamie, the former population expert at the UN and a migration specialist.
Stringers have contributed from Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Berlin, London, Edinburgh and Paris; and Bosnia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Cambodia, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Peru, Poland, Turkey and Zimbabwe.
Our articles have been reprinted by media and policy venues, including AIDS-Free World, Armed Conflicts Daily, Business Standard (Delhi), Center for International Policy, Daily Beast, Global Peace Operations Review at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, International Peace Institute, International Relations and Security Network, Institute of International Education, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Association of Women in Development (AWID), The Global Citizens Initiative, Women, Peace and Security Network of Canada, Global Memo, Reddit and World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA).
Our articles are also regularly disseminated through such partners as Ecowas and AU Digest, MUNPlanet, Women’s UN Report Network (WUNRN) and International Press Syndicate. Blog posts by Barbara Crossette and Dulcie Leimbach, PassBlue’s top editorial contributors and veterans of The New York Times, are regularly published on Medium and channeled to Apple News Feed. We offer a Creative Commons sharing button to reprint our articles at no cost.
MENTORING: We offer an active mentoring program for journalism students to write on the UN and foreign affairs from such academic institutions as Columbia, Muhlenberg and the City University of New York.
OUR NAME: PassBlue is a play on the diplomatic passport known as “laissez-passer” (“let pass”), a blue travel document used by UN officials on missions and issued by national governments and world institutions during wartime and other periods to allow officers to travel to specific areas. The UN grounds passes are also blue; in addition, the UN issues passport-size IDs for travel on contract business.
PassBlue was designed by John Penney (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To write for PassBlue, send an e-mail to email@example.com, including a resume and pithy but researched story ideas.
We thank all our donors for their generous support of PassBlue.
If you are interested in an internship at PassBlue, find out more on our Interns page.
PassBlue is dedicated to Janet Leimbach, Aug. 26, 1925-May 23, 2011.