UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appointed Alison Smale, a veteran foreign correspondent and editor who has reported major stories for nearly 40 years, as the United Nations’ new communications chief.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the 62-year-old British journalist’s appointment as undersecretary-general for global communications, succeeding Cristina Gallach of Spain.
“She has a proven track record as reporter, editor and senior leader,” Dujarric said.
Smale, who speaks at least four languages fluently, started her journalistic career with United Press International in Germany and then joined The Associated Press in December 1981 in Bonn.
She covered events in the Soviet Union leading to its breakup and was at the Berlin Wall when it fell on Nov. 9, 1989, crossing at Checkpoint Charlie along with the first East Germans.
As AP bureau chief for Eastern Europe based in Vienna from 1987 to 1998, Smale reported on the rise of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, changes in Russia and the 1990s Balkan Wars, including numerous trips to Bosnia.
Smale joined The New York Times in 1998 and became a deputy foreign editor in 2002. Two years later she moved to Paris as managing editor of the International Herald Tribune, and in December 2008 she was named that paper’s first female executive editor.
Since August 2013 she has been the Times’ chief correspondent for Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, based in Berlin.
The United Nations’ Department of Public Information, which Smale will head, has a nearly $200 million budget for the two-year period of 2016-2017.