This week’s announcement that independent media will be invited to participate in a “press corps” that would be allowed access to the presidency and the right to cover public events involving the president and cabinet is a small step in opening Myanmar’s still largely opaque governance structure to the scrutiny of an as yet unprotected free press.

The formation of the corps was negotiated in a Tuesday meeting between Minister of Information Ye Htut and around 20 representatives from journalists’ associations, The Irradwady reports. While a small step, the move could serve long-term as a wedge to promote greater access for independent journalists to ministries and other government institutions, according to meeting participants.

Myanmar has experienced an explosion in the number of journalistic publications since the beginning of the democratization process. However, the development of a truly free press is still hampered by the lack of a clear legal framework and associated protections for writers and publishers, a lack of professional training opportunities, and the ongoing persecution of journalists seen as violating a tacit prohibition on sensitive topics.

One such topic is the role of the military in politics, ongoing armed conflicts, and the economy. The military looks set to maintain its stranglehold on parliament and the executive branch through the 2015 election cycle due to the absence of associated constitutional reforms, and military members of both arms of government still maintain their stubborn resistance to speaking to the media on their decisions and actions.

Recent months have seen a seeming regression in press freedoms with ten journalists jailed and the October murder of reporter Aung Kyaw Naing in military custody—which has yet to be properly investigated despite a direct plea from President Barack Obama during his November visit to Myanmar.

These violations of press freedoms, halting progress in national peace talks and the clear unwillingness of the military to countenance constitutional restrictions on its whip hand on power underline the importance of linking international engagement with Naypyidaw to clear, demonstrable progress on rights issues.

Here, progress on extending press oversight and protections are a key bellwether and, while welcome, moves such as the establishment of a presidential press corps remain insufficient indicators of real progress.