[EDITORIALS]Scorning the pressA contribution to the yesterday’s edition of the Asian Wall Street Journal by the No. 2 man at the Government Information Agency was full of denigrating comments about the Korean media and Korean journalists. Not only did it exaggerate some aspects of the media here, it brought international humiliation to the country. A senior Korean diplomat said recently that a government spokesman’s main job was buying drinks for reporters. Now a man handling the government’s press policy has come out swinging at the media, echoing President Roh Moo-hyun.
The piece was in response to a Wall Street Journal editorial of Aug. 18. Opinion, as the Aug. 18 piece in the Journal was, is not factual and is simply the view of the writer. It is difficult to imagine why the government felt compelled to respond.
Then there is the content of the piece. The official says of reporters that government officials “wined and dined and regularly handed them envelopes of cash.” He also claims that Korean reporters “tend to file a report without first checking and confirming important points.” This is a defamation of Korean journalists. The burden of proof for the claim rests with the government. If there still exist reporters who resort to such old tactics, the government should name them. Why is the government not coming out with names but just trying to discredit them all?
There is also critical fallacy in the writer’s argument that the 80-percent agreement to government requests for “corrections or rebuttals” proves that media reform is necessary. The writer fails to mention that most of the requests are for rebuttals and that rebuttals are required whenever the people concerned request them. How can such defective logic be the center of a claim that all the Korean media does is make errors and carry distortions?
The writer now claims that there were errors in the translation. That is an unacceptable excuse to make when a national government made a defamatory contribution to a major international publication. The government erred this time, and there ought to be an apology and a correction.