[Campus Commentary]Press freedom applies to campuses, tooIt’s been more than a year since I became a campus reporter at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. When I first started my new job, I did not have much knowledge and information about the press. However, as I met various people for interviews, visited places and wrote about them in articles, I felt like I was beginning to learn a little about the press, specifically the school press.
I don’t think a school paper has to represent the university’s opinion.
At Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, there was a serious conflict recently between the reporters of the Korean-language newspaper, Oedae Hakbo, and the professor in charge of the paper, over an editorial. Neither party would compromise and the newspaper did not come out for about a month and a half. The reporters also battled with the professor about the selection of articles and stories that the professor regarded as important. The students wanted to write about other things.
Such situations are common at other university newspapers, but in our case, the situation was worse.
School authorities, of course, want reporters to write articles about the school’s positive achievements because the newspapers are sent to alumni living inside and outside Korea.
In addition, the school seems to think that reporters should follow the professor’s suggestions because the school provides the money to publish the newspaper. From this perspective, university papers have no choice but to publish whatever the school authorities want.
This is an issue for all school reporters to ponder. Some could say that a university press is distinctive in that it has to represent the school’s views. However, if the university presses are under the control of school authorities, why call ourselves the press? The university can publish brochures and pamphlets to inform people about its policies and achievements. Even though the university press is supported by the school, the press should keep its own views and freedom of criticism, which is the role of a press.
The press should not be expected to represent the school’s position but be considered as one of many opinion groups in the school. The press should be able to express its own views without restriction. This, at the same time, will inspire other groups to express their own opinions.
In college, students develop the ability to think and criticize; the university is a place that helps students build that ability. It is contradictory that school authorities try to control the university press. The press helps students develop this ability if it is free to express its position and air different perspectives. The press should not be kept under control.
In this era of capitalism, it may seem to some that capitalism stands above journalism. Most people might agree with this. However, we would then have to worry about the press becoming a mere advertising bulletin.
Genuine journalism calls for reporters to insist on expressing their views. The university press should also be outside the control of capitalists. This will fundamentally bring about progress in the schools as well as the development of university journalism.
*The writer is a reporter for The Argus, a newspaper at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
by Yun Ji-hun