Exhibit A – an email from the Israeli Government Press Office [GPO] dated 13 December 2011, apparently sent on instructions from then-Director Oren Hellman [it was apparently one of his last days in office, before he left for a new job at the Israel Electric Company], about bloggers being journalists and getting “GPO Cards”.
Most journalists who read this emailed press release understood it to mean that bloggers will henceforth get GPO Cards.
However, today, Amir Mizroch [@Amirmizroch], editor of the English-language edition of Israel Hayom, reported on Twitter that he’s just received a letter from the Israel GPO saying that “Blogging for Newspaper not journalism”, and denying a GPO Cards to his newspaper’s bloggers.
This is July.
Last December, the GPO appeared to have a very different position, which they announced publicly:
From: ???? ??????
Subject: BLOGGERS TO RECEIVE GPO CARDS
State of Israel
Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Government Press Office
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 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”.