India Uncut

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Accreditation for bloggers

The Times of India reports:
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.

Why now? The article elaborates:
In India, blogging became popular during the Dec 26 tsunami disaster with countless blogspots [sic] soliciting aid as well as reporting from tragedy-struck areas to give eyewitness accounts.


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.

Well, it's nice that blogs are being acknowledged as being "crucial in opinion making", and I'm amused by the possibility that government bureaucrats might actually have read my reports of the tsunami-struck areas in Tamil Nadu, in January. But what difference will accreditation actually make?

Most reporting, such as I'd done after the tsunami, does not need government accreditation, and while I may need it to enter a press conference by the prime minister, what will I have to do to get it? Knowing how government works in India, they'll ask me for a traffic certificate, and there'll be a panel of babus to evaluate my blog and see if my content is "serious". Hazaar questions will be asked. I know how difficult it is to get accreditation for anything for even a bona-fide print journalist, as I experienced when covering the recent India-Pakistan cricket series for the Guardian. (You can read my chronicles of that tour in my March and April archives.) It wasn't the government giving accreditation then, of course, but I imagine they'd be even worse.

So, um, thanks for the kind words, but I don't think we'll be applying to you anytime soon.
amit varma, 11:15 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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