[EDITORIALS]Bad economy isn’t press’ fault

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[EDITORIALS]Bad economy isn’t press’ fault

Lee Byung-wan, the senior Blue House secretary for public information, had a meeting with reporters two days ago, during which he blamed the press’ “incorrect” reporting for the worsening of the nation’s economy. Against the background of external and internal economic variables working against the economy, such reporting is prompting consumers to keep their wallets tightly shut, he claimed.
Mr. Lee criticized the press for publicizing a forecast by a private economic think tank that has put next year’s economic growth at around the 3 percent-level, while disregarding Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hun-jai’s projection that the economy can grow 5 percent next year.
The economy is deteriorating because of the press? If this is what the Blue House really believes, we can only despair. Does the Blue House believe that if the press had not reported the problems with our economy, consumption would suddenly pick up?
There is only bad news about the economy: weak consumption and investment; high oil and consumer prices; and the slowing down of exports. Should the press ignore these developments and merely paint a rosy picture? Does the Blue House mean to say that the press and business community, that worry about the economy, are distorting the situation just for the sake of shaking up this administration?
One of the reasons for the bad economy is the anxiety of its players, and for that reason, pessimistic outlooks and reporting can worsen the situation. But the proper prescription for that is not keeping the press silent, but generating hopeful news that defuses anxiety.
It is time to stop trying to turn everything into a confrontation, and start cooperating and creating a mood of reconciliation so that economic players can feel comfortable enough to invest or spend in the Korean economy. It is in this light that Prime Minister Lee Hai-chan cited social instability as the leading cause of sluggish investment in the first half of this year, and Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hun-jai worried about the depression of the Korean economy.
It is a foolish general that kills the messenger who brings bad news. The press is only the messenger. After a year and a half in the Blue House, the Roh government has achieved nothing and the economy has worsened, but it keeps blaming the press that points this out. It is disconcerting to think that the Blue House might be headed down the same road taken by the foolish general.
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