[EDITORIALS]Media failed clarity testThe most salient characteristic of this year's presidential campaign is that the media played a bigger role in it. The media contributed to reducing the evil practice of relying on money and the questionable mobilization of voters, which not only contaminated previous campaigns, but also corrupted politics as a whole.
The format and the debate procedure, however, were too rigid, and the events had a mechanical feel, making it difficult to distinguish differences in the candidates.
Now that the three television debates are over, voters are left to choose on the basis of allegations and the ideas the candidates produced. Voters are confused because the divide between Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun is obscure, even though the political platforms and policies of the Grand National Party and the Millennium Democratic Party differ so widely.
The split on issues between the two are in only limited areas, such as North Korea policy and jaebeol policy. Tuesday's television debate on social issues, including college entrance exams, the status of women, welfare and employment, could be called a competition on making pork-barrel pledges. It was a debate for the sake of debate. Even a pledge with a dubious financial foundation could not be examined. Some even asked whether the debate helped propagate pork-barrel politics since there was no way to examine them.
Mr. Roh's contention and his counter-contention on investment in education were confirmed not true. This shows that the debate was a smattering. An event for choosing the leader of a nation should not be made a TV quiz program or an appeal to viewers' emotions. Although creating a favorable image is important in a media-driven election, there is more. If media elections are a boost for disguised agitators, we have to reconsider them seriously.
Another feature that made the debate ineffective and less enthusiastic was the interruptions of the debate by a less than competitive candidate. Although information is limited, voters should judge who would be the best person to lead the country. Improvements and a systematic evaluation of the media's role in an election should follow.