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PassBlue is an independent, women-led digital publication offering in-depth journalism on the US-UN relationship and its effects on women’s issues, human rights, peacekeeping and other urgent global matters, as reported from our base in the UN press corps. Founded in 2011, PassBlue is a project of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and not tied financially or otherwise to the UN. It is also a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.
STAFF: PassBlue’s editor, Dulcie Leimbach, worked for more than 20 years at The New York Times on numerous editorial and news desks as an editor and a writer; Barbara Crossette, PassBlue’s senior consulting editor, was UN bureau chief for the paper from 1994-2001 and a chief correspondent in Southeast Asia and South Asia.
Irwin Arieff, who covered the UN, the White House and the US State Department for Reuters, is a consulting editor; Laura Kirkpatrick, a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, is editorial manager of social media and a writer; Susan Manuel, a former UN peacekeeping communications expert and journalist in Hawaii and Nevada, is a senior writer; Kacie Candela who works part time for WFUV Radio at Fordham University, is assistant editor for editorial and marketing and a writer; and John Penney is IT manager and 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 and analysis on the UN, with a strong focus on women’s issues, peacekeeping, development and other vital issues.
As 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 on 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 as well as donations from individual readers.
BOARD: Our advisory board consists of academics, journalists and policy experts on the topics we cover: Irwin Arieff, Tanya Domi, Alison Gardy, Stephanie Golob, Jeff Laurenti, Hsing-Hsing Li, 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.
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 age demographic is 18-34 years old.
Our most-influential reporting 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 an European Union executive, throwing her hat in the ring, based on information we used from diplomatic sources. 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 exclusive interview with Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, and is the only long-form article on the topic;
• 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.
Biggest 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, resulting 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 Grad 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 migrant specialist.
Stringers have contributed from Washington, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Edinburgh, Mali, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Nepal, China, Cambodia, India, Georgia, Peru 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, Medium, 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.
MENTORING: We offer an active mentoring program for journalism students to write on the UN and foreign affairs from such schools 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.
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We would like to 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.