Indian Government offers Accreditation to Bloggers

I'm re-posting something i wrote at my blog, as i feel it is an issue that can affect all bloggers :

The Times of India reports that the Government opens doors to bloggers.

"NEW DELHI: If you are a serious blogger, the Indian government may just open its doors to you. India is in the process of framing rules for granting accreditation to Internet journalists and bloggers for the first time, taking a reality check on an evolving world of net writers who could shape opinion and who have already been granted access to official corridors in countries such as the US. "We are framing the rules for giving accreditation to dotcom journalists, including bloggers," Principle Information Officer Shakuntala Mahawal said."

"We are looking at various models in other countries and studying rules broadly put in place by organisations like the UN, sports outfits and commonwealth countries," said a senior official of the information and broadcasting ministry. "The idea is to sequester the genuine from the fraud and acknowledge those who really want to make a difference. They will be given facilities and better access through accreditation." Online posts are widely read and according to surveys some 44 per cent of America's young people read blogs. Most readers look at blogs for news, perspective and honesty that they cannot perhaps find in standard news media. According to Indian officials, blogs are becoming a political statement in many other countries - such as in the US and British elections - and India needs to prepare for such a situation. "

This is so interesting. Am not sure what to think of it though. Found this graphic via Return of the Warblog - thought it was funny.

A picture named credentials.gif

On the one hand i am happy that bloggers are being taken seriously, on the other, many questions and some fear running through my mind ....

Do bloggers want this accredition by the government? Do they need it? What benefits? At what cost? Will we lose our freedom of speech? Is this license or protection or regulation of sorts? Will they become mouthpieces for the Government? Will it create competition among Indian Bloggers, in a mad rush for press passes, where camaraderie and collaboration exists today?

What do you feel?
My thoughts here.

This makes absolutely no difference to us as bloggers, unless we're desperate to attend PCs by the PM which will be widely reported everywhere anyway. I didn't need accreditation when I went to cover the tsunami down south, and you didn't need it when you started tsunamihelp. This is just the government's way of appearing modern, and makes them feel good about how "with it" they are. Whatever. It's all the same for us.
Why...the government might be trying to creat a way to get an upperhand over the bloggers. Be aware of the "NEXT" step.
I think we are missing an imp. point here. This move will not affect avg. Joe bloggers like me. Many of us don't claim to be journalist, nor is anyone asking for sarkari blessings. But those who want to do grassroots journalism? Now they will not have to be dependent on MSM or compromise to do a fluffy story because the PR/mktg thinks its good for the coffers. I think this move opens up new fronts for fresh journalists - many such folks come out with zeal and idealism in their eyes to change the world, and somewhere down the line get sucked up by the system. They can now do their jig, carry that press tag and generally be treated as "Press". I think it is going to throw up more and more freelance journalists, who will then also sell their "star" stories to MSM. We just need a success story or two to come out of this. I am hopeful and ready to give it some time to shape up.

Ofcourse one can expect some restrictions to go with. But, let's face it; there cannot be rights without responsibilities, and extent of each of em can be debated. But methinks this must be taken as the first step. And as Amit said, no one is being forced to go for it. If it's voluntary, I feel it must be welcomed. Let's not put the govt. down even if they just want to appear "with it". Infact I am surprised that without any intervention on the part of bloggers, the govt. proactively came out with this policy (Unlike in US, we don't even have MSM vs bloggers brouhahas, except for Mediaah). That in itself speaks volumes about the intent. Or, am I missing some conspiracy theory here ?
Um, we don't need accreditation to do grassroots journalism. In fact, in India, we are free to do whatever journalism we want at any time. We may not have access to the PM's PCs, but that's about it.

The government's move makes no difference to us, either good or bad. Let them have their fun, I say.
Already posted on this. Sorry about the Mindless Link Propagation, but here's where my reaction on this issue is.. government or no government!
Accreditation, as far as I can tell, is essentially meaningless. I can think of very few situations where an enterprising journalist will need it. Possibly in a war situation, otherwise no.

In that sense it seems to me sort of like a ration card -- many people seem to think they need one, but these days many of them actually don't.

Truth in advertising department: I have neither accreditation nor a ration card.
Four points:
1) I thought the "Press" has some special rights not given to aam juntaa eg.Read this debate about revealing sources going on in the US media. I don't know if equivalent fundaas apply to Indian media. Plus for whatever it's worth, the now defunct, PTI membership, advantages kick in.
(Don't blast me for that last line. I am just drilling deep to find out the extent of this thing)

2) Is the accreditation pretty much only for press briefings ? Here, I am thinking about easy access to investigation commission reports, census reports, official documents published after riots, tragedies etc. - which now as per RTI Act should be available to all citizens but we know it won't be that easy. Will this accreditation help here or not ?

3) International travel: Isn't there a separate visa and process for mediamen ? Coz if the ans. is yes, then I think this will matter more and more in the coming days, when one is going on an assignment to US or European nations.

4) Finally, will it be possible for one who has taken this accreditaion, to give it up if he doesn't like it, and go back to being his own lowly blogger self ?
ps:Dilip, you might want to get a ration card soon. These days, not having one is qualification enough for the 'authorities' to pack you off to Dhaka by the next available boat (we can't afford flights)
lol love the cartoon :)..
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