[EDITORIALS]Political bias on portalsGathering of news and editing are two major pillars of the media. By editing, news and data are gathered and organized into certain formats before being sent to subscribers. Editing is a crucial part of evaluating the value of news and rearranging if in papers.
In this regard, Web portals function as virtual media because they edit news. Internet portal sites are like behemoths in the information market, with enormous capital and countless surfers, but not regulated by newspaper laws. Web portals are under the Ministry of Information and Communi-cation’s supervision.
One civic group pointed out that major Web portals had shown politically biased inclinations during the local election campaigns. Statistical records are confirming those suspicions. According to the Liberty Union’s monitoring data, there were plenty of articles in favor of the Uri Party’s candidate for Seoul mayor, while negative news coverage of the Grand National mayoral candidate was posted in places that easily caught people’s eyes. This violates the basic principle of the impartiality and balance of news.
These portals did not cover other crucial news as major news, such as the visit by the father of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese woman kidnapped by the North, and the brother of Kim Dae-eop finding a post in a governmental body that investigates questionable deaths of soldiers. Kim Dae-eop raised groundless political rumors in the last presidential election. On these Web sites, news of remarks by the head of Nosamo came much later and was unnoticeable. The head of Nosamo, President Roh Moo-hyun’s supporters’ group, said Park Geun-hye must have had plastic surgery after being attacked.
This is contrary to the practice of daily newspapers and broadcasting companies who treated such news as major news. It is hard to see this as a mere mistake. It looks like articles not favorable to the government were deliberately ignored. Internet portals are already yielding enormous power. But whether they meet the social obligation that matches their power is in question. These Web sites have aroused many problems by reporting inaccurate news and articles that libeled people. Combined with political bias, such sites can be transformed into dreadful weapons.
A rumor is swirling that to win in the next general election one should have the portals on one’s side. We can see why this rumor has spread. The Internet portals should have discipline and strict standards and overall reform measures should also be prepared.