[EDITORIALS]The people’s right to knowThe association of producers at the KBS television and radio network voted to cut off access to the station for Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo reporters, citing “excessive ideological criticism” of the broadcaster by the two national newspapers, including allegations that a recent KBS documentary was biased in favor of Song Du-yul, a Korean-German sociologist. The association asked the company to make the station off-limits to the reporters of the papers. KBS is not taking any specific action against the two newspapers at the moment, but is examining the validity of the producers’ demand. We do not know what decision the station will make.
We think it would be wise for KBS to decide not to bar the two papers’ reporters. As a public broadcaster, KBS is the biggest news organization with two television networks and seven radio channels. KBS thus should know what the duties and social responsibilities of the news media are. The association of Korean newspaper and broadcasting editors has said that “the KBS producers’ association’s decision to refuse any coverage by the two papers is unacceptable.” The statement also means that KBS must not restrict the people’s right to know, as a public TV station with a social responsibility.
We are withholding judgment on whether the “Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo are maneuvering against KBS with anachronistic McCarthyism” as the KBS producers say, or whether it is “an overbearing decision, disapproving any kind of criticism of KBS,” as the two newspapers say. Still, both KBS producers and reporters of the two papers should reflect on whether the principles of objective reporting and pursuit of the truth in producing programs were observed.
We think that this event should not erupt into an all-out war between some newspapers and broadcasters. An emotional confrontation between members of the press only damages the people’s right to know. If that right is used for self-interest, it not only shuts people off from the information they truly need to know but also adds to the public’s distrust of journalism. In any case, the right to know belongs to the people.