Al-Ahram Weekly | Region | Covering up Gaza: "First, to get into Gaza a journalist must be in possession of a press card issued by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). All other journalist cards -- even international ones -- are worthless in the eyes of the Israeli government.
To be eligible for a GPO card, applicants must have accreditation with a recognised media organisation. Freelance reporters and photographers are considered to be impostors unless they can prove that they have an assignment from just such an accredited organisation.
The problems for freelance journalists are twofold. First, Israel decides which organisations are accredited and is likely to reject any 'alternative' media that has been too critical of Israel in the past.
And second, Israel makes it impossible for freelancers to do in Gaza what they would do in any other conflict zone: head off with an open mind to see what is happening on the ground. Now, the freelance journalist must have a specific assignment in mind, and have an agreement in advance with a media organisation to cover that assignment in its name.
These conditions severely limit the freedom of freelance reporters and photographers to find stories that the main media organisations have overlooked. In practice, if a freelance journalist can get such an assignment (in itself a difficult task), it is likely to be for one of the stories th"