Published February 21, 2008
NEW YORK – Google News quietly reinstated Tuesday the articles of a news service that routinely exposes U.N. corruption, a day after FOXNews.com ran a story about the Internet giant's decision to remove Inner City Press from its search engine.
Inner City Press returned to the Google News search late in the day, but much sooner than the "couple weeks" a Google representative had promised. The week of stories the news service ran since Google News dropped it on Feb. 13 were not restored.
The news outlet, run by journalist Matthew Lee, has been critical of the U.N. and internal corruption within the organization. Lee was informed that Google News would drop his organization in a Feb. 8 e-mail.
Someone complained to Google early this month that Inner City Press was a one-man operation, violating the Google News ground rule that news organizations listed must have two or more employees, according to Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman.
Lee, who insists his organization has appropriate staff, believes someone within the U.N. pressured Google to drop him. The U.N. denies the charges.
In a statement released Wednesday Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said, "The Secretary-General has often spoken out in favor of press freedom and will continue to do so, but that insinuating that he, or his staff, is linked to the decision taken by Google News to de-list Inner City Press is blatantly false and misleading."
Since 2005, Lee's been focusing almost entirely on stories that deal with internal corruption inside the U.N., posting several stories online almost daily.
He's been especially interested in the inner workings of what could be called the practical-applications arm of the international organization, the United Nations Development Programme.
Google said the "de-listing" was due to a misunderstanding and agreed to restore Inner City Press stories to the Google News service.
The reaction to the de-listing, however temporary, had been furious. The non-profit Government Accountability Project lambasted the company, calling Inner City Press "the most effective and important media organization for U.N. whistleblowers."