Monday, May 16, 2005

Bloggers to get official accreditation

Bloggers to get official accreditation
Source: IANS. Image Source: DGL.Microsoft
New Delhi, May 17: 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 told IANS.

The first meeting on this was held a fortnight ago, and more are scheduled in the coming days.

"We want an inclusive policy and we want to complete the process as early as possible," Mahawal said.

This augurs well for independent bloggers, or web loggers, who are increasingly being recognised the world over as cyber journalists.

A blog, short for web log, is a personal journal published on a website. Blogs can be musings, opinions and news, and a blogger can have a dedicated daily audience through his postings.

"Blogosphere", as the world of bloggers is popularly known, got a big boost in March when American blogger Garrett M. Graff, 23, was given a pass to attend the daily White House briefing.

In India, blogging became popular during the Dec 26 tsunami disaster with countless blogspots soliciting aid as well as reporting from tragedy-struck areas to give eyewitness accounts.

There are an estimated eight million bloggers across the world, some of them professional journalists but quite a few just freelancers.


According to the top press officer, the government acknowledges that the role of dotcoms is becoming increasingly crucial in opinion making with net surfing becoming a way of life with virtually all of urban India.

For the past few years, Internet journalists and writers in India have fought a tough battle with the official machinery to gain access to government offices and conferences through the mandatory Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation.

The battle turned grimmer after the exposé by scam-busting website revealing corruption in defence deals and showing top politicians and officials accepting kickbacks, causing immense embarrassment to the government.

It was only after the new Congress-led regime took over that the process of granting official access to dotcom writers picked up pace.

"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 percent 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.


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