FAO's "hyped" profile of media wizard

ROME—As Mario Lubetkin took over FAO’s spin operation, ex IPS colleagues poured scorn on the "hyped" biography the UN agency issued to justify the dlrs 25,000 a month hire of the unctuous Uruguayan scribe.

 FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva in a message to all staff proclaimed  “I have appointed Mr Mario Lubetkin Tulbovic as Director, Office for Corporate Communication, at Headquarters, Rome effective 3 February 2014. Mr Lubetkin, a national of Uruguay, was the Director General of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency since 2002, and started his professional career with IPS in 1979 as Director of the Information Analysis Department.  He later served as the Director of the IPS Uruguay branch between 1985 and 1994,after which he became Director for IPS Latin America between 1994 and 2002.”

 An IPS former staffer familiar with the agency's Latin American operations commented  that  “This ‘Information Analysis Department’ never existed. It was an office with three employees, whose task was to classify and glue clippings sent via snail-mail by correspondents from around the world; then Xerox-copy those sheets and mail them to different contractors to back media impact reports. Nobody ever asked these fellows their opinion of what had been published. Probably they never bothered to read any either.”

 The well-placed source added that Senor Lubetkin left Rome for Montevideo in 1994 as second correspondent. "He was not ‘Director;’ his boss back then was Sergio Jellinek, now the in-waiting IPS DG. Lubetkin had no journalistic training nor experience prior to this appointment.”

 Dr Graziano in his paeon of praise went on to declare that  “During his career Mr Lubetkin has coordinated communication projects with the governments of Finland, Italy, Spain, Uruguay and Brazil, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations  Environmental Programme (UNEP). In 2012 he was nominated as a member of the United Nations Advisory Group for the International Year for Cooperatives (IYC).Mr Lubetkin has also collaborated extensively with the media in Italy, Brazil Uruguay and Ecuador, and from 1998-1999 was the Director of the RAI International ‘’Italiani-Italianos” programme. He has acted as a high-level communication consultant for various organizations in Latin America and the European Union, and for private sector entities in the United States. He was a founding member of Com+, an alliance of communication experts for sustainable development from distinguished international organizations and the media, and was the founder and Vice-President of Media Watch Global in 2003.”

 An IPS watcher commented  that the ‘’Italiani-Italianos” programme was actually a magazine-like show run by Lubetkin's wife.”

 Dr Graziano climaxed his endorsement of his new spin doctor by stating that “Mr Lubetkin is currently a Professor for a Master’s Degree course on Communication for International Relations at IULM University in Milan, and was the Director of a seminar on Communication for Development at the Universidad MeneÌ ndez  Pelayo (UIMP) in Santander (Spain). He is the author of numerous articles and has coordinated the publication of various books on political communication, communication networks and technologies, and coherence in communication for development. “

 A senior IPS staffer noted that “Very rarely did Lubetkin write any of the articles, papers, essays attributed to his name. When he did, they had to be heavily edited.” He charged that the IULM where Lubetkin is a professor  “is a private business where nothing resembles a University worth that name. It is the joke of students; there are hundreds of statements on the Net, just google it. Generally, Italian universities are not among the world's top, but IULM is not even listed.”

 Although Dr Graziano in his communiqué referred to "mr Lubetkin," an advertisement for the course taught by the Uruguayan maestro on the IPS website titles him “Dr Lubetkin” though he never took a university degree, let alone studied for a doctorate.  

 An IPS insider added that “not mentioned among Lubetkin's activities qualifying him for the D2 job, there is an important one: his links to IMS (International Media Services), a Miami-based company ostensibly handling media analysis for big US corporations. IPS Latin America -represented by Lubetkin as Vice President- was supposed to have a 25 percent stake in this company, which was sold in 2008 to a Canadian-based outlet called "Marketwire", for an undisclosed amount. CEO was Roberto Botero, a Colombian-American, and another VP was Botero's sister, Alicia.”

 There was no immediate comment from Senor Lubetkin.

Mago: Lubetkin (right) with Graziano