[EDITORIALS]An ethics lesson for the media

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[EDITORIALS]An ethics lesson for the media

Shock rippled through society when it was disclosed that the anchor, the news director and a journalist of the MBC talk show “Shin Gang-gyun’s News Service” were treated to a night of entertainment and received brand-name handbags from a construction firm. It is regrettable that those whose job is to report any corruption and abuse of power in our society had forgotten their responsibilities.
This news program, since its start in in October 2003, has continually to criticized articles from major newspapers on the grounds of ethics and fairness. Its main targets included the JoongAng Ilbo, the Chosun Ilbo and the Dong-a Ilbo.
A news host who criticizes other media should himself be ethically clean and fair. This incident shows that the program’s producers lacked the strict ethics required of a media worker and make us question just how fair the program had been all this time.
The firm responsible for treating them is the mother company and biggest shareholder of SBS. “Shin Gang-gyun’s News Service” had alleged in October that the SBS campaign “Water is Life” was a ploy to support this firm’s bid for a public sewage project. At the time, SBS and MBC were engaged in mudslinging brought on by the question of reissuing a broadcast permit to SBS.
It is incomprehensible how Mr. Shin and his colleagues could have met with the head of this firm. It is incredible how they could have criticized this firm only to turn around and accept expensive gifts from them. This goes against MBC’s ethics code, that employees should not receive gifts from work-related acquaintances. MBC must conduct a strict investigation and discipline those responsible.
A similar uproar rose in the United States recently, when it was revealed that the White House gave a huge amount of money to a conservative commentator in 2003 and 2004, and the commentator in turn promoted President Bush’s education policy.
In any society, a journalist must be free from greed and interests. He or she must think first of the public good. He or she must have a firm belief in holding power in check and protecting the weak. He or she must never use the media for personal interest.
It is our wish that Korean journalists and the media will use this regrettable incident as an opportunity to examine themselves and work harder to establish a firmer ground of ethics.
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