[EDITORIALS]The Echoes of Press Criticism

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[EDITORIALS]The Echoes of Press Criticism

"Gangster tactics are needed. Tactics like getting on the phone to let our anger be known and then storming the printing presses."

"Why do we need 160 organizations to reform the media? We can do with just three smart ones."

"What's wrong with being a little violent when we're trying to do the right thing."

"We need an 'eye-for-an-eye' mentality."

Those were just some of the comments made at a June 22 workshop attended by civic groups, professors, journalists and others who demanded media reform. The shocking and chilling remarks were uncovered in documents submitted by the Korea Press Foundation, a government-funded body, to the National Assembly for inspection. It is incredible that discussions on the "realistic strategy for media reform" included language more fitting to a world of violence.

The workshop took place around the time the National Tax Service was looking into the taxes of media companies, and heated emotion in the comment apparently reflect expectations on the probe. The general tone of debate was that of a mob mentality that is trying to corner the three major newspapers - JoongAng Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo - as enemies against the noble mission of media reform. Apparently nothing would be spared to accomplish that mission, even if it meant destroying the press.

The air was full of self-centered and dogmatic collusion of exclusivism. Nothing in the suggested tactics agrees with the proclaimed mission of working for a democratic media and a democratic society. Rather, the comments are something we should be on guard against in a democratic society. The comments are serious enough to tarnish the honorable intentions behind a nongovernmental movement. In that sense, a clear explanation is due from those who made the comments.

We're also concerned by the relationship between the government and certain civic groups involved in the discussions of media reform. The Press Foundation granted 9.5 million won ($7,300) for the workshop and 7 million won was spent. After the workshop, the foundation proclaimed that media reform is right on course, according to a national consensus. If that's true, why were so many chilling comments made?

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