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Reporters think the new regulations restrict their work and are too invasive.

Oct 23,2007
The media conflict between the Roh Moo-hyun administration and journalists keeps trudging along.
The government shut down pressrooms used by reporters covering different ministries on Oct. 12.
Since then, reporters have worked in the hallways, refusing to attend government briefings at new consolidated media centers.
As the tug-of-war continued, the Blue House made clear once again on Oct. 17 that it will not back down.
“The system of press corps being accredited with each ministry had some problems, so the reporters should accept the new system,” Cheon Ho-seon, the presidential spokesman, said.
“We have accepted most of the journalists’ demands, and the only remaining issue is that the press corps system for each ministry will be abolished and the journalists must use the new briefing centers.
“In terms of making the best use of the buildings, we are asking them to move to another room, and it is wrong to report that we are evicting them to the street,” Cheon said.
The journalists’ relocation is part of the Roh administration’s new media policy, explained as “a plan to advance the system to support journalists’ reporting.”
The policy dates to a cabinet meeting on Jan. 16, where Roh accused reporters of forming an “information cartel” by agreeing on what they would write on any given day.
Roh ordered his staff to conduct a survey on the “information cartel,” and the Government Information Agency did a study on how media rooms at government offices are operated at home and abroad.
The agency announced the survey outcome on March 22.
Based on the study, the agency drafted a new media policy, including a plan to consolidate 40 reporters’ rooms into three briefing centers.
The plan also included interview guidelines, requiring journalists to obtain approval before contacting their government sources and to conduct interviews only in designated areas inside the ministries.
The public servants were also required to report to the public affairs offices about the interviews.
The Roh administration announced the new media policy in May, and the plan to largely cut back journalist access to government sources faced immediate criticism.
After a fierce backlash from the media, academics and politicians, Roh hosted a discussion with representatives of five media organizations on June 17.
The session was aired live on television, but the debate failed to narrow the differences between the Roh administration and the press.
The government continued to push its media policy while collecting feedback from the media and scholars.
The administration issued a detailed implementation guideline for the new media policy in August.
The draft of the implementation instructions faced further criticism because of its strict control of the media.
The instructions included a plan to place an electronic chip on the access card that reporters use to enter a government building.
The Roh administration dropped the most criticized clauses from the instructions and issued a revised guideline on Sept. 14.
The government, however, made clear that it will proceed with the consolidation of the media rooms.
The Government Information Agency wrote on its Web site, National Governance Briefing, that “Some criticized the administration for taking the initiative to change the media, saying the media itself must be in charge of its affairs.
“It appears to be right, but the administration is the source of information and at the same time the subject of news reports, so it has the duty and right to adjust the methods and system of supporting journalists’ reporting activities.”
The Web site also said that, “Most advanced countries only allow media to talk to public servants when interviews are prearranged through public affairs offices. The unauthorized access to government offices is barred in principle.”
When the Government Information Agency locked down the old pressrooms at the ministries on Oct. 12 and told journalists to use the new briefing centers to file their stories, the press corps at the government complex buildings in Gwacheon and central Seoul protested fiercely.
The administration budgeted about 5.5 billion won ($6 million) to build the new briefing rooms ― 175 seats for the Gwacheon complex and 203 seats for the Seoul complex.
But journalists chose to work on the floors in the hallways outside their old facilities.
Most of the reporters also boycotted government briefings that took place at the new media centers.
Only KTV, a state-run broadcaster, and the Hankyoreh newspaper are attending briefings in the new media centers.
As the battle between the administration and journalists continues, Foreign Minister Song Min-soon’s regular media briefing has not taken place for the 14th week as of Oct. 17.
The Finance Ministry also canceled its scheduled briefing on Oct. 18 due to the press corps boycott.
Only two reporters attended the Education Ministry’s briefing on Oct. 16.



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