[EDITORIALS]Healthy journalistic rivals

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[EDITORIALS]Healthy journalistic rivals

A few days ago, Russell T. Lewis, CEO of the New York Times, wrote a comment dealing with the Enron bankruptcy for the Washington Post. In it, he criticized the press for failing to dig into the company's malpractices and said it is time for the press to wake up and do its job correctly. It is interesting that this kind of self-criticism was written, and even more interesting that it appeared in a competing newspaper.

The American press has a good history of exposing scandals that involve high government officials. Watergate and the Pentagon Papers are good examples, but it still seems that the press does not have a good track record of exposing corporate skullduggery. In the 1980s, when the U.S. savings and loan crisis burdened American taxpayers with billions of dollars of debt, the press was caught sleeping and received its share of criticism. Not only did the media fail to sound a warning but they also failed to dig into the problem, contenting themselves with gossip and superficial reports.

Nowadays, newspapers themselves are big companies that depend on money generated from advertising. As a company they have to keep their businesses growing, and that inevitably exposes them to ethical problems. Even more than business people, the press has to consider the mood of their advertisers while maintaining a balance between a desire to increase profitability and to keep its unique independence. Mr. Lewis pointed this out in his article, but also noted that business firms ?advertisers ?have to understand the public service functions of the press.

Locally, we cannot hide our disappointment that a former CEO of a Korean economic newspaper was jailed for being involved in a financial scandal. Instead of serving as the public's eye to warn of potential scandals and wrongdoings, our press is busy exaggerating and confusing, and now we are in the thick of a scandal. We need some self-examination here as well.

Last month, bypassing its own staff members, the Washington Post named the New York Times' Thomas L. Friedman as the best foreign affairs columnist. We envy the healthy competition between these two leading U.S. newspapers as the media in Korea compete to slander each other.
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