[EDITORIALS]Hopeful signs for newspapersThe 58th World Newspaper Congress, under the auspices of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), wrapped up in Seoul yesterday.
As the Internet and other technologies continue to create a new media environment, today’s newspapers are being forced to be innovative and revolutionary in their approach. The younger generation tends to lean toward the new media and away from traditional print media, and this has generated a situation where traditional media outlets are engaged in unhealthy competition. The increasingly prevalent Web logs, or blogs, have invented the term “citizen journalists,” enabling the average person to report and document news events. And this phenomenon has forced professional journalists to consistently compete for readers’ attention.
This is the gist of the argument about the crisis that newspapers are facing today.
However, we learned from the WAN meeting that the seemingly negative situation for newspapers can create opportunities for them. Many of the case studies examined during the conference are products of open-mindedness. Korean newspapers can take advice from the successful cases, and begin utilizing citizen journalists and their respective blogs to their advantage, adopting changes in page designs and layouts and carefully listening to what readers have to say.
We must commend the meeting for being more than an opportunity to share successful stories; it provided a chance to confirm that the most important issue in the revolution of newspapers is the value of newspapers themselves. Central to the value of newspapers is freedom of the press and a sense of responsibility. The WAN conference reassured us that the accuracy and fairness of reporting, vital to any successful newspaper, can only be achieved by having the freedom to disclose the news and being responsible in reporting it.
The domestic papers cannot be an exception to this formula, but unfortunately, our current situation does not allow for it to be realized. Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of the New York Times Co., said, “The government does not guarantee the media their accuracy and fairness; readers do, because they are much more knowledgeable than the government, thanks to the free flow of information.”
This is one comment that our political leaders, who continue to try to limit the freedom of the press here by enacting laws targeting the nation’s largest newspapers, must bear in mind.