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Monday, July 04, 2005


THE NEW GENERATION JOURNALISTS Posted by Picasa

Govt opens doors to net journos

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.
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”We are framing the rules for giving accreditation to dotcom journalists, including
bloggers,” Principle Information Officer Shakuntala Mahawal said.

The first meeting on this was held a fortnight ago, and more are
scheduled in the coming days.
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”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.
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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.
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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.
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The battle turned grimmer after the exposé by scam-busting website tehelka.com
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.
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”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.”
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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.