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Media jamboree at ASEAN Summit

Bali (Indonesia), Nov.19 (ANI): Almost two thousand journalists from about forty countries have gathered in Nusa Dua, Bali, to cover the 19th ASEAN and 6th East Asia Summit.

Reporters, columnists, bloggers and experts have occupied the Bali International Convention Center (BICC), clanking away on over 300 computer terminals and high-speed connectivity points provided by the Media Centre.

Gatot S Dewa Broto,Chief of the Information Center and Public Relations, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Republic of Indonesia, who is in charge of providing facilities which includes accreditation and smooth functioning, said there are about 1958 journalists, both domestic and foreign, who are attending the summit.

He said all of them have the freedom to access facilities at the media centre, including access to bandwidth facility for the Internet.

"We are providing them with 300 computers terminals and 200dedicated lines. The cost for setting up these facilities could be anywhere upwards of two million US dollars," he said.

Most of the journalists are of domestic origin, or from South East Asian member nations.

They said it was a challenge for them to report on ASEAN summitevents, which are visually dull and do not evoke much interest in most countries.

Over 80 Japanese reporters have registered to cover the ASEAN and East Asia Summits, most of them occupying private booths in the back of the large media room dubbed Little Tokyo.

Khemmapat, a journalist with the Japanese media giant NHK, said: "Its not easy, but anyways, we have to keep going step by step, And, even it is a bit boring to follow things that do not see much progress, we could see EU-type cooperation in future."

Besides the Asian countries, there are there are about 140 American journalists who have accompanied President Barak Obama.

The Americans keep to themselves, not mixing with journalists of other countries, not willing to give sound bites to television channels, keen on knowing about the renewed interest America has in the Asia-Pacific region.

The group is shepherded around by an official at most times, who keeps a not so discreet control over the journalists.

President Barack Obama joined 17 other Asian leaders for the East Asia Summit today, reflecting a significant shift in American policy.

Journalists from ASEAN countries say that they have noticed that the Obama administration has placed ASEAN-led institutions at the heart of its foreign policy in Asia.

It is common to see reporters slouched over their laptops, waiting for some juicy story to fall into their laps.

Besides the South China Sea and Myanmar being picked for Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014, there is little newsworthy.

The Indian media contingent accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is working out of a different media centre set up at a hotel where the media is staying. This is where briefings by officials are also conducted.

In between constant supply of tea and coffee, reporters try to capture readers and viewers interest in a news story that is largely 'unsexy'.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's bilateral meetings with President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia and ASEAN summits were more newsworthy for the domestic media, as compared to his participation at the summit meets.  (ANI)

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I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indiaís leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.
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