[EDITORIALS]Rescind the press banThe Office of the Senior Presidential Secretary for Public Information has announced that it will not answer any questions or requests for press coverage from the Dong-a Ilbo from now on. This is the result of the intense reporting by the newspaper on real estate transactions by the president’s wife, Kwon Yang-sook. The Blue House has termed the reports as having “malicious intent and hostility.”
The fracas between the Blue House and a prominent newspaper is explosive. The conflict between the government and the media, which started after President Roh Moo-hyun’s inauguration, has moved from requests to correct errors, to demands to print counterarguments and, most recently, to lawsuits by the president seeking reparations. Unlike past conflicts of this nature, the refusal of coverage is different and a cause for dismay.
We do not know if the report in question is “the result of malicious intent and hostility,” as the Blue House claims. Since the Blue House plans to file a civil suit against the paper, the judgment rests with the courts.
But we must point out the fact that there is no justification for any branch of government, which should be under the watch of the press, to refuse all coverage and reporting by a newspaper. The key function of the press is to supervise and criticize the institutions that govern the people’s lives on behalf of the people, who have the right to know. When a certain report is judged to be clearly wrong, claims can be made, but the right to limit the freedom of press coverage does not lie with the government.
The press must thoroughly examine itself so that it does not fall prey to the lure of power. The press is charged with the responsibility to operate in an ethical manner. The people perceive society through the press. As their “window to the world,” the press must carry both rights and responsibilities.
What we do not need now is an emotional response, one of seeking revenge. Only a rational response can lead to a healthy relationship between the press and the government. The Blue House must retract its decision to thwart coverage by the Dong-a Ilbo.