IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency
January 6th, 2014

In the face of the circulation, on a small Italian web site in English, of false information about IPS and Mario Lubetkin, IPS Director General until 31st January 2014, the Executive Committee of the IPS International Board of Directors, and its President Emeritus Roberto Savio, got the respective letters to the digital publication, which we reproduce below:

Dear Mr. Philips,

Reference is made to the letter of the co-founder of IPS, published by you on 23rd December 2013. We are writing to you to clarify a series of mistakes published by your site concerning IPS and its Director General Mario Lubetkin.

It is surprising how many articles on IPS have been published by you in such a short span of time and it is astonishing the aggressive and unprofessional attitude shown especially in the light of the fact that you have not consulted official sources before launching such reckless statements based on not reliable “anonymous sources”. As you will undoubtedly agree, this is a basic rule of journalism.

We think that both IPS and its outgoing Director General Mario Lubetkin have very little to do with the attempt of your web site to discredit FAO as an institution as Dr Savio pointed out in his letter and we consider ourselves as being a victim of such a dispute.

There are many points that we should deny, however we will limit ourselves to the following ones:

1. No successor to Mario Lubetkin has been appointed yet (as you erroneously stated); we take this opportunity to highlight that, thanks to Mario Lubetkin’s professional and personal skills, IPS has been successfully managed in the last 12 years. We deeply regret, Mr Philips, that you do not know him personally, in fact should you have known him you would have totally changed the wrong accusations you published. Selection and appointment of the new IPS Director General is responsibility of a selection committee composed of colleagues from different regions and the outgoing Director is not part of such a committee; he will send to the Board a short list of the most qualified candidates and we will then take the final decision. Contrary to what you have published, this panel composed of professionals of the IPS Association will designate the new Director who will start performing his/her functions at the end of January 2014, this is the procedure we adopted for all Directors appointed so far.

2. With regard to the IPS TV, we would like to inform you that the start-up phase – financed by the private sector – ended and we are presently looking for new investments for the next phases of this project. No other agreement has been reached so far in this connection and, as a consequence, there is no new President envisaged; as you erroneously published, we regret that you have not consulted us before doing it.

3. With respect to our funding system, as clearly stated on our web site, IPS receives financial support in the form of grants from donor countries, implements with success communication projects for the main United Nations agencies, therefore not only for FAO with which we have a long-lasting cooperation and from which we have been receiving awards years ago. Moreover, we implement communication projects with other international and regional organizations as well as with the private sector.

4. Regarding the outgoing Director General Mario Lubetkin, who will leave IPS at the end of January 2014 to take up new responsibilities in FAO, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that many IPS officers, including Dr. Savio, followed similar paths and started a new job with different United Nations agencies as well as with other international organizations. It reflects the fact that IPS activities and responsibilities are of direct pertinence to the complex processes of multi-partner Global Governance. We are, in fact, very proud of it as it is clear that these were highly qualified professionals.

Furthermore, we would like to emphasize the professionalism and achievements of Mario Lubetkin and his team in these hard times and in particular during the global financial crisis started in 2008. It is absolutely false that he got rich with IPS and that he owns many properties, we regret again you have not checked the accuracy of the information you were publishing, this false information could harm Lubetkin’s professional, ethical and moral reputation.

As far as IPS operating costs are concerned, Lubetkin – who has the same salary scale of his predecessors and whose salary has been frozen since 2002 – implemented IPS rules and it is totally false that he has led a luxury lifestyle in the organization, with regard to the salaries of staff he had always adopted the policy of paying as much as possible considering the limited financial resources of a non-profit organization. This has always been the spirit of the Board and of the other committees, including our distinguished Board of Trustees.

We could continue with so many other corrections since you have published a long list of incorrect and false information and we are really puzzled as we do not understand their origin and the reason why.

We hope that you will publish this letter in the same section and with the same emphasis given to Dr. Savio’s letter. Should you intend to publish other articles on IPS, we would like to suggest you to verify first the “anonymous sources”.

As usual, we would be pleased to provide correct information on our history, projects and future plans to interested parties.

With best regards,

Executive Committee of the Board of IPS

Fifi Benaboud President of the Executive of the IPS International Board of Directors

Walther Lichem Vice President of the International Board of Directors

Giovanni Spinelli, Secretary of the International Board of Directors




Dear Mr Filipowicz

It is clear that you are engaged in a hatchet job against the appointment of Mario Lubetkin as Director of Communication of FAO but since all the ‘facts’ you quote about IPS are simply divorced from reality, may I ask you how you pretend to imagine that this kind of journalism helps you with the gist of your article?

I have many more years as a professional journalism than you (I received the Saint Vincent Award for Journalism, equivalent to Italy’s national journalism award, in 1970 at a time in which I suspect you were not particularly active), so please read what I have to say with some patience.

What makes an article valid is the lack of weak points and undocumented affirmations. I am therefore very amused and professionally disappointed in you to discover that IPS was founded by Socialist journalists in the days of Bettino Craxi. When you use dates and their association with persons (be they political figures or milkmen in Ohio), it is always useful to use Google Search or any other search engine, a luxury which your generation can afford, but then again, that would indeed require some work. If you had done that, you would have found out that IPS was founded in 1964, and at that time I was an active Christian Democrat working with Aldo Moro, and Craxi was nowhere to be found.

The ‘fact’ that IPS was allegedly set up to right the North-South information imbalance has also added immense amusement to my Christmas holidays. I am afraid that you do know not much about the UNESCO debate on the New International Information Order (NIIO). The simple fact is that in that debate, IPS was recognised as the main actor in the field and it received Category 1 Consultative Status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council as an international NGO devoted to that task. Your ignorance of NIIO suggests that you have probably never heard about the Non-Aligned News Agencies Pool, but you might be surprised to learn that it used IPS as its carrier. Then there is also the fact that ALL development agencies came to work with IPS, an unprecedented fact, which meant that IPS had a much wider and qualified audience than your paper. Space does not allow me to tell you more about the many recognitions that IPS received as a bona fide and specialised news agency. Suffice it to say that these, on top of the facts that I have given above, would more than sufficient to refute your spurious conclusions.

What it is even more amusing is that to attack the contract with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you seem to believe that  the best way to undermine it is to remind your (how many?) readers that in 1992, during the so-called Mani Pulite Operation, Italian development cooperation was subject to an enquiry about its operations. Now, one the first findings from the magistrates was that IPS operations where all transparent and documented. And I wonder how you could, by association, imply that the Nordic countries and  the Netherlands (which, by the way, are the main working partners of IPS, not of Italy,  as you can  see from IPS’s certified and public budgets), could give public money to IPS in a non-transparent way.

In other words, dear Mr Filipowicz, it is not by collecting gossip that a journalist does a professional job.

I am not going to say anything on the issues you raise about Lubetkin. I left IPS in 2001, and I am not his spokesperson. He appears able enough to take care of himself.  But, because all the facts you have been quoting about IPS are simply divorced from reality, may I ask you to what extent you think this kind of journalism helps you with your dirty work against him?

I advise you to leave IPS out of this affair. I will send you the recently-published book on IPS, The Journalists Who Turned The World Upside Down , which came out in Spanish, English and Italian, in which more than 100 contributors (including Nobel Prize winners, former Secretary-Generals of the United Nations, presidents, ministers, leaders of civil society and so on) write about how IPS was meaningful to them. Please take some of you obviously precious time to read, it, and do not attack 50 years of the work of hundreds of journalists who, united in a non-profit organisation,  worked under very difficult conditions (five of our journalists were killed for writing the truth), to produce a different information that could bring the world closer together and more peaceful.

With my best wishes,

Dr Roberto Savio
PS. Before writing again about me, please run a Google Search !



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