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Blue House seeks an online paper

July 28,2003
On Sept. 1, an Internet newspaper will be launched by the Blue House and the Government Information Agency.
The “newspaper” will carry government agencies’ policy statements and news written in traditional journalistic style.
“President Roh Moo-hyun said that it was a good idea that should be pursued,” said Lee Hae-sung, the Blue House senior secretary for public information as he met with reporters yesterday.
An online media outlet, Pressian, quoted an anonymous government official working on the project as boasting that in the future, the government would put breaking news on the site instead of releasing it to the traditional media. “Other newspapers will have to write features rather than straight news articles if the Internet newspaper outdid other newspapers in reporting scoops,” he reportedly said.
But Blue House officials denied any intention to report the news first on the government-run Internet outlet.
A news team at the Government Information Agency would be in charge of managing the Internet newspaper, and public relations officers at government agencies would rewrite press releases in journalistic style, an official explained.
The opposition Grand National Party issued a statement criticizing the plan. “It is dangerous and undemocratic for the government to use information they produce in way to challenge the press,” the statement said. “We will not sit by idly if the Internet news outlet is an attempt to block the press role of providing checks and balance.”
The administration has, at best, a businesslike relationship with the press that sometimes breaks down, in particular with Korea’s three largest vernacular newspapers, the JoongAng Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo.
“An online government newspaper can serve as a direct channel of communication between the government and the citizens, but one can suspect political motives,” said Park Cheon-il, a professor of telecommunications and public relations at Sookmyung Women’s University. “If it erodes the function of the press to interpret, evaluate and criticize government policy, it will be the citizens that will ultimately lose out.”


by Kang Min-seok, Kim Sung-tak


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