Bloggers to receive GPO cardsThe Government Press Office has announced that bloggers are now eligible to receive GPO (press) cards.
BLOGGERS TO RECEIVE GPO CARDSBloggers were promised press cards by the director general of the Prime Minister's office, Ron Dermer, at the bloggers' conference in September of 2009. I don't know why it took that long - it will be curious to see if there are any criteria (like traffic) for defining bloggers. That's one thing that could have held them up.
The Advisory Committee on Evaluating the Criteria for Issuing Government Press Office (GPO) Cards this morning (Tuesday), 13.12.11, submitted its recommendations to Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Public Diplomacy, Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Ronen Plot and GPO Director Oren Helman.
The Committee recommended unifying the various types of cards issued by the GPO under the single heading "GPO Card" which would serve all those engaged in media professions.
In light of the Committee's recommendations, it was proposed to expand the content of the substantive definitions of media and the list of media professions and positions in order to adapt them to recent changes and developments in the field. The new definitions include media professions and means such as bloggers and niche portals.
The new definitions created by the Committee will make things easier for documentary film makers who, due to the nature of their work, do not operate under a permanent professional roof. Similarly, the Committee lifted various restrictions that prevented the issuing of GPO cards, such as scope of output, the requirement to distinguish between managing directors and editors, and the need that those applying for GPO cards be engaged in media work full-time.
Committee Chairwoman retired Judge Sara Frisch said that, "The positions and the comments that were brought before the Committee strengthened the need, in my view and that of my colleagues, to change the rules and broaden the definitions of media vis-à-vis the issuing of GPO cards according to the rules. The Committee's recommendations were formulated such that the criteria for issuing GPO cards will be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, while maintaining their effective benefit and preventing the excessive issuing of the cards, which would be liable to harm journalists' work itself."
Minister Yuli Edelstein said that, "At a time when claims are being raised about shutting people up, reducing freedom of the press and interference, the Committee's recommendations are genuinely good news in expanding pluralism and reducing the room for consideration by the issuing authority regarding the issuing of press credentials. The Committee's recommendations give expression to the undeniable changes vis-à-vis the development of the new media and questions of what is a newspaper and who is a journalist. We are in a new era which finds expression in the recommendations of the Committee."
GPO Director Oren Helman said that, "I ascribe great importance to the Committee's recommendations and the opening of the ranks so as to allow a younger generation of journalists to receive access to events and to the sources of government information, due to their being included in the eligibility for GPO cards. This is a genuine reform in the work of the GPO, which will lead to media pluralism and the strengthening of a very important democratic value – freedom of the press and media openness. The new structure of rules recommended by the Committee gives a genuine response to the technological challenges and developments being dealt with by the GPO."
GPO Director Helman added that, "Defining in legislation the definition of who is a journalist would be bad for democracy and bad for journalism. We must avoid the possibility of influencing content via the definition of who is a journalist."
The Committee's recommendations were formulated with the consent of most Committee members – Shalom Kital, Yossi Ahimeir, Niv Calderon and Samir Darwish – except for a minority opinion by Committee member Dr. Amit Lavie-Dinur, which is included in the Committee report.
Will it make a difference? Only for the official government events and press conferences. I already get invited to conferences all the time (including the President's Conference last year). I don't blog full time, so while I will be happy to get a press card, I'm not sure how much I will use it. But it's worth having. I wonder how the mainstream media types will react to the competition.
UPDATE 9:36 AM (BOSTON TIME):
I am now told that the minimum, and only effective, criteria for a blogger will be 10,000 unique visitors (I assume monthly) and that press cards for journalists and bloggers will not differentiate between the two groups, instead they will only say "GPO card".
That number is low enough to let just about anyone in (I get over 100,000 unique visitors per month), and I'm wondering whether they may find that unwieldy in the future. Has anyone checked how many Israeli (is it limited to Israelis?) bloggers have that many visitors per month?
I'm glad they're not differentiating between the two groups, but we're fooling ourselves if we think no one knows the difference, at least at the outset.