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Why access to officials is so important for reporters

Every bit of information, whether crucial or trivial, is a piece of a large puzzle
The Finance Ministry has decided not to let journalists, even those with Press Information Bureau (PIB) accredited cards, enter its premises without prior appointment. The Ministry has benevolently arranged an “air-conditioned waiting room” for reporters with regular supply of “water, tea and coffee” outside Gate 2 in the beautiful North Block. This is where reporters are apparently to stay put till a bureaucrat agrees for a meeting.
If only the life of a reporter were so easy that merely waiting outside rooms could get us sources and stories. We stalk corridors and wait outside rooms for a living. We knock at doors, reach out to disgruntled babus, and ambush senior officers and Ministers to ask them uncomfortable questions — all to gather little bits of information. The accreditation card issued by the PIB is seen as an entitlement by many. It’s as much an ‘entitlement’ as is a ticket to a cricket match for an average spectator. After all, scribes are really the first spectators of any government. We record what we see and hear. Without that small, rectangular card, getting access to government officials every day is like running a hurdle race. Routine visits to officials give reporters a peek into their eccentricities and habits. One Minister I know rearranged her office for vastu purposes using tax payers’ money. One had a penchant for taking selfies in front of elaborate flower arrangements in his office during lunch breaks. One loved cats so much that his office would stink of cat poo. These might be trivial bits of information for the readers, but for us, each bit of information helps us piece together the entire puzzle. You never know which one of these could come in handy and when. On one visit to Shastri Bhawan, I stumbled upon a story during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term. A Cabinet Minister got her door sealed and constructed a wall in its place. The entrance to her room was rearranged, according to the directions of her vastu consultant. It’s another matter that despite all the vastu , she could not stay on in her post for too long due to the controversies she generated.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/why-access-to-officials-is-so-important-for-reporters/article28393694.ece

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