State of Israel
Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Government Press Office
13 December 2011
BLOGGERS TO RECEIVE GPO CARDS
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
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'
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
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.