Lost in paperwork

Lost in paperwork

According to the guidelines on the website of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), “accreditation" means recognition of news media representatives by the government for purposes of access to sources of information in the government and also to news material released by the PIB and other government agencies.

Several journalists—both domestic and foreign—get by without PIB accreditation. However, there is talk that permanent PIB accreditation (temporary accreditation has been discontinued since August 2009) might become a prerequisite for permanent journalist visa extensions for foreign correspondents.

Accreditation is capped at seven for foreign-based dailies and periodicals. For foreign news agencies, it is 15, and for foreign photo news agencies, seven.

To be fair, the requirements are identical for Indian journalists. Foreign journalists only have to additionally provide copies of their passport and journalist’s visa. But several requisitions become especially difficult for foreign correspondents—for example, submitting six months’ copies of their daily newspaper!

A correspondent in charge of a European media bureau, who did not wish to be identified, says that the PIB asks for documents that may not exist in the journalist’s home country and that officials are not willing to accept substitutes. “So because we have nothing like a ‘letter of appointment’ back at home, my staff members cannot get their PIB accreditation," she gripes.

PIB guidelines clearly state that “no foreign freelance journalist" will be eligible for grant of accreditation. Most get around the system by getting an international media house to provide them with a sponsor letter that presents them as staff writers.

The complete manual for acquiring PIB accreditation is available online at http://pibaccreditation.nic.in