[EDITORIALS]Press not welcomeThe new administration’s views on the media are alarming. President Roh Moo-hyun says he will wage a war against misreporting; the Ministry of Culture and Tourism unveiled measures yesterday that would limit reporters’ access to the ministry.
Recently, President Roh has mentioned his war on inaccurate reporting several times, and told government agencies to report on media coverage of their organizations. Presidents have a right to express their dissatisfaction with the press, but his expressions of distaste could make the people think that most reporting is inaccurate, and could limit news-gathering.
Misreporting is last thing the press wants to do. Most misreporting stems from blunders and misjudgment and is not done deliberately. But President Roh’s tone is that reporters and editors are fabricating reports deliberately, which is a very different claim. Recompense for victims of inaccurate reporting is stipulated in the law. President Roh is overreacting with his campaign against misreporting when all he has to do is go by the book.
The decision of the Ministry of Culture to close the press room and use only written press releases could be seen as an attempt to limit news other than that that the ministry wants to feed the press, and its action could be a precedent for other ministries. Civil servants at the ministry of culture would be obligated to report to their bosses on what they talked about with a reporter. Additional news gathering other than that at the official press briefing would be limited to authorized officials and authorized bureaus. Reporters working on stories about government mismanagement and mistakes could be blocked, and reporters might be able to get only news favorable to the government.
It is contradictory for the administration to create a participatory government while systemically blocking information flows. People in a truly democratic nation should know what is going on in the government. The government should keep in mind that allowing more latitude for newsgathering is the way to reduce bad reporting.