[EDITORIALS]We Can Take the Criticism"Our view on the recent media dispute," said a joint statement from 31 people from various sectors, including university presidents, civic group heads and religious leaders, is a bitter pill to all members of our society who are directly and indirectly involved in the government's recent tax probe of six newspapers.
We humbly accept their criticism that "Reform of the media is our greatest and longest-held wish...The press has neglected their duties of the age and they should reflect on their negligence."
The statement included a proposal to the press to grant editorial independence, respect of the readers' right to know, protection of individuals' reputation and privacy from the press' possible violence, open management and adoption of the Audit Bureau of Circulation regulations and professionalism and moral sense for a fair report. We have already made a great effort to achieve those things, but we will also accept the proposal with modesty, for we regard it as sound advice from opinion leaders who want the press do better.
"Nothing is sacred in the tax inspection and any corruption that cannot be accepted by society should be punished according to law," the 31 said. Those words echo our own opinion. The example of "the serious problem of the media tax probe," and grounds for "the suspicion of the government's oppression on the press," in the statement are also similar with what we have already said; the government assigned 50 to 60 investigators to look into one newspaper firm; the scale of the inspection, including a bank account tracking, has no equal in history. Though only six newspapers were accused, 23 media firms evaded tax.
The 31 people involved deplore the recent trend that says intellectuals are taking sides, which has been caused by the tax investigation into the press. The statement, "the intellectuals are forced to stand on either side... if either of conservatism and progressivism is denied, the press will be standardized and the democracy will face a serious crisis," is confirming that the Korean society's conflict of ideologies has come to the serious stage.
In an atmosphere that suggests "If you are not in my party, then you are my enemy," then only dichotomy results. It's the same thing with "support for reform or anti-reformist protection of vested rights," "the left-wing of the populist or conservative for the privileged class." Vicious mutual criticism such as "Hunting dogs," and "the Reds" prevail.
"The public is uneasy at the unrest of the society. We should prevent the society from floating." The appeal made by the 31 people will be widely responded by the public. Intellectuals should remove the shallow sense of dichotomy and the trend toward two extremes. They should help provide a place for productive discussion in which variety is allowed. The ruling and opposition parties should perform their duties of mediating and harmonizing conflicts and antagonisms of the society. Party leaders should make their best effort for the reconciliation of society, instead of pursuing personal interests.
The government and the political sector should deliberate on why such criticism came out, "Because the government has failed to settle the problem in the way to persuade each side, the whole society is going to both extreme sides. In such a situation, it is difficult to throw out the suspicion that the media tax probe is no more than oppression on the press." The order is timely: "The government should make a measure to persuade each side."
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