[EDITORIALS]What the press is for

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[EDITORIALS]What the press is for

It is worrisome that President Roh Moo-hyun’s view of the press has not changed with the new year. The remark he made against the media on Saturday at a discussion among high-ranking government officials revealed that he still considers the press an object of resentment rather than understanding its role of watching the government. Without mentioning the media’s contribution in leading the nation toward the right track, Mr. Roh described the press as something that makes hard-working civil servants feel helpless.
The media’s source of power is the public. It watches the government with rights it has been delegated by the public. Therefore, pointing out whether civil servants are right or wrong is its inherent duty. Reflecting the people’s voice on national and social agendas and criticizing government policies are duties of the press.
It is natural that there is a gap between the government’s intention, reflected in policy, and the media’s evaluation of it. If the government prefers to hear sweet words, and regards criticism as intentional distortion, there is no room for “relations of healthy tension,” as Mr. Roh earlier described the relation between government and the press.
“Dialogue with the people,” which Mr. Roh demanded that civil servants have, is necessary. But if this was under the assumption that the press not report on government work, it poses a problem. Since the Kim Dae-jung administration, when the media has reported incorrect information or one-sided assertions, the government has caused concerned media to publish corrections or counterarguments, either through the rulings of the Press Arbitration Commission or court decisions. Moreover, as Mr. Roh mentioned at the discussion, “the number of wrong reports on the government has decreased to two to three a day from over 10 times more in the past.” If there are distorted reports in the press nowadays, the readers will shun them.
It is not that “the civil servants lose people’s confidence because of the media, although they perfomed well.” The press only does its duty. We want the government to devote itself only to what it has to.

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