THREE CORRESPONDENTS of the official Chinese news agency were accredited to cover Congress the other day, joining the correspondents of more than a dozen other foreign government broadcasting organizations. Every one of them is in violation of the gallery rule limiting accreditation to legitimate representatives of the news media and denying it to applicants "employed in any legislative or executive department or independent agency of the Government, or by any foreign government or representative thereof." For reasons that just about everyone understands, this rule is being honored in the breach in order to permit the correspondents of societies that organize their press along other than American lines to do their professional work here.
Okay. But why then is the same wink not given to correspondents of the official American radio station, the Voice of America? They are surely no less professional than, say, the man from Soviet television. If the Congress finds VOA worth funding and instructs it to be "a bonda-fide news gatherer," on what logic does it block VOA correspondents from doing their work? The gallery is the one location around the glove where VOA correspondents are denied the accreditation accorded other resident journalists. Nowhere else in Washington are they forced to skulk in the halls.
The gallery executive committee (of correspondents) believes the rule should be changed. It's up to House Speaker Thomas P. O'neill and Chairman Clairborne Pell of the Senate Rules Committee. They should end the foolish exculsion of the VOA.